In Bedford-Stuyvesant area, parents have to struggle to bring up their children. This is because of increased drug dealers, bullets wounding even innocent who ventured out after dusk, and gang members hounded young children. All parents including Charisse Johnson and her husband lived in fear. Nevertheless, Charisse’s greatest fear was loosing her sons to the streets although her 16-years-old son was already in detention center.
Life of black children has been endangered across the country since they are used for testing effect and effectiveness of newly produced medicine. The Whites trick and cheat Black parents to allow their children to participate in a series of simple interviews in hospitals but they actually use them as sample tests in their scientific researches. For instance, in 1992, representatives from Columbia University appeared at John’s door, explaining that they wanted her other son, six-year-old Isaac, to go to its hospital for a series of simple interviews and tests, culminating in a onetime overnight stay involving a single dose of harmless medication. The worker explained that Columbia University was offering a safe free test for Isaac in order to discover whether he might have any medical problems. They would pay her approximately one hundred dollars, and they had something for Isaac, as well-a gift certificate for Toys “R” Us-if he agreed to participate. Johnson hesitated briefly, but eventually she signed.
Involvement and use of Black children and eve their parents in scientific research is a common phenomenon in New York. These researches have affected negatively Black children and parents. For instance, in the case of Isaac and other Black children, scientists wanted to discover whether these boys shared their brothers’ purported violent tendencies and the so-called mean gene. To attain this, researchers did much more than simply giving the boys a dose of fenfluramine. More than a dozen of the boys were withdrawn from all their medications for months, including medications for such life-threatening chronic conditions like asthma. They ate low-monoamine diet for four days because monoamines affect serotonin levels.
The boys were hospitalized the night before, and food was withheld for the duration of the experiment once they were out of sight of their parents. The next morning, water was withheld, as well. At 8:30 A.M., physicians inserted a catheter and gave each boy fenfluramine hydrochloride by mouth. Fenfluramine had never been given to children under twelve before this experiment began. Ninety percent of adults given a single dose experience side effects ranging from anxiety, fatigue, headache, light headedness, difficulty concentrating, visual impairment, diarrhea, nausea, irritability, to a feeling of being «’high:’ Up to 30% of adults who take fenfluramine developed heart-valve damage, and it can trigger a life-threatening form of high blood pressure called pulmonary hypertension}’ One boy complained of a severe headache and others complained of light-headedness, but they were not released. Beginning at 10:00 A.M., blood was drawn hourly from the boys’ catheters and tested to determine fluctuations in serotonin. The researchers’ claim that serotonin levels reveal aggressive tendencies is based upon questionable science. Walsh characterized the causal association of serotonin levels and aggression as “widely accepted;’ which is incorrect: The correlation has been heavily criticized.
Undue inducement, from baiting children with $25 toy certificates to luring their parents with $100, no insignificant sum on the streets of Washington Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Such racial selection could stigmatize not only the participants but all black and Hispanic boys as “born criminals.” The element of stigmatization is a key factor in understanding certain racial disparities in research with children, because such research is not an egregious exception for black children; rather, it is the trend.
Just like judicial systems all over the world, Johnson filed a lawsuit for the violation of Isaac’s and other boys’ rights but just like many courts which demand witnesses and sufficient evidences, the court dismisses Johnson’s allegation through Daniel S. Pine, M.D., the study’s principal investigator saying that “Families overwhelmingly reported that the research experience was a positive one but no family members have come forward in response to legal and media requests, so we cannot know whether their children suffered serious side effects from the drug.” Johnson’s lawyer, Rudy Brown, believed that the other families are intimidated by the OPRR decision and the juvenile justice system, too afraid of what might happen to the older brothers of the subjects should they speak out. And, despite Johnson’s insight and courage, justice has proven elusive for her, as well.
Her civil suit for $60,000,000 against the city, the researchers, the NYSPI, and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital alleged breach of confidentiality and civil rights violations. But it languished for three years in the teeming files of Judge George B. Daniels of federal district court in Manhattan. Daniels, who is black, was profiled by the New York Times in December 2004 as the «unchallenged king of delayed decisions;’ with 289 civil-case motions pending for longer than six months-more than any other judge in the nation. By the time Brown was able to force a decision through the appellate court in November 2003, Isaac was 17, and Columbia was released as a defendant. As this book went to press, Johnson’s case was scheduled for late 2006. This therefore shows how Blacks were treated unfairly and with injustice.
In order to silent patients who can serve as witnesses, numerous techniques and strategies were invented and adopted. For instance, from the 1960s through the early 1970s, disenchantment with the widespread use of tranquilizers fostered interest in brain surgery as an alternative to “quiet” patients)? University of Mississippi neurosurgeon Orlando I. Andy, M.D., capitalized on this trend, performing many types of brain ablations, including thalamotomies, on African American children as young as six who, he decided, were “aggressive” and “hyperactive:’ Witness his published approach to the behavior of a child he refers to as “J.M.”: J.M., a boy of 9, had seizures and behavioral disorder (hyperactive, aggressive, combative, explosive, destructive, sadistic).
Bilateral thalamotomy was done, left (January 12, 1962) right (January 20, 1962). Right thalamotomy was repeated on September 16, 1962. The patient’s behavior was markedly improved and enabled him to return to special education school. After one year, symptoms of hyperirritability, aggressiveness, negativism, and combativeness slowly reappeared. A fornicotomy [removal of a fornix, a small paired brain structure that connects areas of the brain that are key to emotions] was performed on January IS, 1965. Impaired memory for recent events developed and the patient became much more irritable, negativistic and combative [emphasis added].
This book has, therefore, looked at various ways through which Black Americans suffered in the hands of Whites. It shows how court and judicial system favored and protected Whites who committed injustices against Black in the name of scientific researches. It also shows how what was purported to be scientific researches affected life and health of the Black Americans. However, it is even more painful to note that this maltreatment still exists in some places up to now with Black Americans being maltreated and denied justice. This book is therefore a wakeup call to everybody both Black and White to help solve this issue.