Unfortunately, I was unaware of this unveiling & eye-opening documentary. However, I’ve since learned that it was directed by: Renee Tajima-Peña & produced by Virginia Espino.
I’m always appreciative of those monumental times when my knowledge base expands and after seeing a friend’s post that had popped up on my newsfeed I decided to take a moment to write a sincere request on the director’s Facebook page. In my carefully drafted appeal, I simply asked if they would be willing to host a viewing in Seattle. Because, it’s currently screening in several venues in and around New York.
I found myself compelled by what stood out about this ban of emotionally and physically scared women; women that were pitted into circumstances no one should endure…fighting for a part of your body and ultimately your legacy that will never be ‘granted’ back to you – no matter how much money is paid out as a form of reparations for a form of ‘colonial-cleansing’ that was in fact a mandated cover up!
Due to my former studies and subsequent self-directed research, I was aware of what the government did in Guatemala, Puerto Rico and along the dusty roads in the southern part of the US. However, I wasn’t aware that authoritative figures in the medical institutions of California were also practicing forced sterilizations. Sadly, over 20,000 such procedures were carried out on Californians for well over 54 YEARS; staring in 1909! Additionally, investigative reports stipulate that it continued well into the 70’s…as well, it appears that there was a conspiracy established that brought about a correlation between the unifying force of the Latino Civil Rights Movement and these forms of what I consider to be the silencing of a generation that never had the ‘chance’ to have been born, but for these gorilla tactics practiced by medical professionals far and wide.
Over the course of learning about this documentary I was informed that, “In California, the eugenics movement was led by figures such as William Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University, and Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times.” — (CNN Health: California’s dark legacy of forced sterilization)
Rather people would like to admit it, “In the mid-20th century, many U.S. doctors, geneticists and judges supported forced sterilizations.” Matter of factly, “If you were deemed worthy of being sterilized by a doctor, there was no board where you could have a hearing to protest,” he said. –(Christina Cogdell, a cultural historian at the University of California-Davis)
“California’s movement was so effective that in the 1930s, members of the Nazi party asked California eugenicists for advice on how to run their own sterilization program. In the mid-20th century, many U.S. doctors, geneticists and judges supported forced sterilizations.” In turn, “Germany used California’s program as its chief example that this was a working, successful policy,” Cogdell said. “They modeled their law on California’s law.” –(CNN Health: California’s dark legacy of forced sterilization)
It’s been noted that, “The Golden State sterilized more than twice as many people as the next state, Virginia, which sterilized 8,300, according to Paul Lombardo, a professor at Georgia State University’s College of Law.” –(CNN Health: California’s dark legacy of forced sterilization)
It’s almost hard to fathom all of those that were involved (up to their surgical gloves mind you) in these despicable & life altering acts committed on the bodies of the residents in California.
For me, John Hopkins’ hospital will forever be synonymous with the name Henrietta Lacks (aka HeLa), due to the many studies they conducted on human subjects who were desperately in need of medical care, much like herself. However, the medical maleficence she experienced as well as her affect on the study of cancer, has virtually gone unheard of by many.
I’m also reminded of the vast cases of female genital mutilation that took place in the southern US, along with the deplorable practices enlisted by J. Marion Sims and his acclaim as the ‘father of gynecology’.
Dr. Joy DeGruy, goes into further detail about the gruesomely heinous ‘surgical’ procedures that were forcibly performed on these utterly powerless women in her book entitled: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
Furthermore, Medical Apartheid, by Harriet A. Washington “…reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and the roots of the African American health deficit. It also examines less well-known abuses and looks at unethical practices and mistreatment of Blacks that are still taking place in the medical establishment today.” –(Youtube Video Footnote: Medical Apartheid Part I)
You can watch the discussion the author had during an interview, hosted by Democracy NOW!
“Slaves were used preferentially to test genitourinary surgeries. Beginning in 1830, 30 of 37 experimental cesarean sections performed by Dr. Francois Marie Prevost used slaves. Experimental ovariotomy and surgery for bladder stones also relied heavily upon black and mulatto subjects.” (Medical Apartheid pg. 57) “Sims acquired a total of eleven women slaves with vesicovaginal fistula from their masters by promising lodge, board, and treat them, and he built a Spartan wooden building, where he conducted surgical experiments on them for the next four years…he made the women undress completely, then kneel on hands and knees while he and several physicians took turns inserting a special speculum he had devised to open the women’s vaginas fully to view…Montgomery physicians flocked to Sim’s shack to see what no man had seen before. So did prominent citizens and local apprentices.” (Medical Apartheid pg. 64)
“Medical journals and professional word of mouth had detailed the inhalation of ether as anesthesia since the early 1840’s, and Sims knew of this, but he flatly refused to administer anesthesia to the salve women and girls. He claimed that his procedures were not painful enough to justify the trouble and risk attending the administration, but this claim rings hollow when one learns that Sims always administered anesthesia when he performed the perfected surgery to repair the vaginas of white women in Montgomery a few years later.” (Medical Apartheid pg. 65)
“Sims never disclosed whether he closed the fistulae of his other slave patients, although many who have written about him seem to take it as a matter of course that he did so. However, his erstwhile colleague Bozeman insisted that “not one half” of the slave women they worked upon together were afforded relief by the years of painful surgeries.” (Medical Apartheid pg. 67)
Many of the medical experiments performed on slaves came with mammoth risks, little or no therapeutic content, or no possible benefit to the subjects, and upon mere attempts at exploitation to perfect medications, procedures & techniques. “French scientist Louis-Pierre Gratiolet added that in the Negro “the cranium closes on the brain like a prison. It is no longer a temple divine, to use the expression of Malpighi, but a sort of helmet for resisting heavy blows.” (Medical Apartheid pg. 36)
It’s maddening to imagine that this is what most of the ‘medical professionals’ at the turn of the century believed and enforced in their doctrines.
In conclusion, I’m bidding my time and keeping my fingers crossed with hopes that Renee Tajima-Peña & Virginia Espino will see my request and that I’ll be here to see it when it airs. Because, their work is poignant and demands to be seen.