COVID-19 and the Deadly Legacy of Establishment Racism

It is widely reported that black Americans are much less likely to choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19, even though the health care establishment and its amplifiers in government and the press proclaim ’round-the-clock that near-total public compliance with vaccination is necessary to fight this plague and return life to some semblance of normal.

Many black Americans are suspicious of the American health care establishment because of the legacy of the United States Public Health Service-funded Tuskegee experiment (1932-1972), in which black men with syphilis were denied treatment in order to study the natural progression of the disease. Some commentators insist that such suspicions are foolish: “the Tuskegee study is ancient history, from an America vastly different than today’s. Its only relevance to contemporary America is as a talking point for those who want to convince Blacks that ‘Whitey’ is out to get them.”

Yet is the American healthcare establishment of the Tuskegee years vastly different from today’s? This year’s Black History Month, as always, offers an opportunity to ask some difficult questions and explore some unpleasant truths about Americans’ racial attitudes.

For example, there still exists a large, well-funded, and white-run organization called Planned Parenthood, with the mission of preventing, in the words of the late abortion advocate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” 

In pursuit of that mission, Planned Parenthood performs abortions on a heavily black clientele. American black women have abortions at about triple the rate of other American women, and that proportion undoubtedly would be higher if one looked only at black women descended from persons held as slaves in the United States.

The truth is that our political, media, and medical establishments still look at the descendants of American slaves as a population they “don’t want to have too many of.” That is why they support mass immigration to bring in populations they think will out-compete black men. That is why they continue affirmative action programs that principally benefit the Kamala Harrises (mixed-race child of foreign-born parents and descendant of black Jamaican slaveholders) or Barack Obamas (mixed-race child of a Kenyan father, himself descended from a long line of East African slave-takers and slave traders). 

And that racial, class, and caste contempt is an important reason why the establishment (including Democrats and Republicans, liberals, and even some self-proclaimed conservatives) continue to support the largest abortion provider in America.

If the establishment really wants black Americans to participate fully in the fight against COVID-19, it couldn’t hurt to try immigration and family support policies that make clear black Americans belong, and belong forever, to the country they helped build, in slavery and in freedom, with their own sweat and blood.

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