by Esther Bush
With the new year comes new beginnings, but, for many, especially those in the African American community, 2021 brings with it many feelings of uncertainty. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, people have questions, and a palpable hesitancy can be felt in every corner and neighborhood because of stinging reminders of the past.
This hesitancy and mistrust, at least where the African American community is concerned, stems from years of medical abuse. Well-known examples are the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, where African American men were given no effective care for syphilis so that researchers could track the progression of the disease; the controversial and unethical experiments performed on enslaved African American women by James Marion Sims; and the case of Henrietta Lacks, who passed away from cervical cancer in the 1950s but not before her cells were taken and used for biomedical research without her knowledge or consent.
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