Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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What do the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the Mississippi Appendectomies suggest about the history of African Americans and medicine?

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The incidents suggest two key things in regard to the medical community's historical attitude toward black people: firstly, that black people are something "other" than or less than human; and secondly, that black people are more capable of withstanding pain. This latter stereotype causes some medical professionals to think that black patients are more likely to exaggerate pain. Both of these attitudes are vestiges of slavery.

During the Jim Crow era, there were "white" hospitals and "colored" hospitals. Black people who suffered from emergencies were usually refused admittance to "white" hospitals, even if they were in closer proximity. Black hospitals were not only sometimes farther away, they were also less plentiful and not as well-equipped as "white" hospitals.

Though attitudes and laws have improved—that is, black people are admitted to the same hospitals as everyone else and are accepted as human beings who may require treatment—displays of humanity toward black patients have...

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