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tv   Washington Journal Rana Hogarth  CSPAN  February 22, 2021 1:07am-1:28am EST

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feet, as far as the taliban, to the fire, we will lose more. host: you can find the work of his and his team at sigar.mil. announcer: c-span's washington journal. every day we're taking your calls live on the air on the news of the day and we'll discuss policy issues. coming up monday morning. the attorney general confirmation hearing. and then a discussion of f.d.a. and c.d.c. vaccine advisor boards. watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern monday morning and be sure to join the squgs your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages and tweets. is rana hogarth
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, a history professor at the university of illinois that has studied public health. prof. hogarth: thank you for having me. host: i wanted to start with this washington post headline and story because it connects the past with the present. it says "decades later the infamous tuskegee syphilis study stirs wariness in the black community over the covid-19 vaccine." for those of us who may not know or remember the details, what was the tuskegee syphilis study? prof. hogarth: the tuskegee syphilis study is one of the best known cases of breaches ethical medical misconduct. the study carried on for about 40 years and was actually sponsored by the united states public health service in which they followed something like 400 african-american men in macon
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county, alabama withholding treatment for their syphilis from them. the study was based entirely on deception, they withheld penicillin when that was understood to be the proper treatment for syphilis. i would also add, and this is quite critical pertaining to this discussion, the premise of the study was based on a faulty and dangerous concept that the disease of syphilis would be different in black people than in white people. the idea being that there was some sort of innate biological difference between the races. host: what is the legacy of that study years later? after that was discovered and made known? prof. hogarth: i think what you find is i would say understandable hesitancy and a little bit of skepticism with respect to the american medical profession and public health service. this study was carried on in plain sight, it was not hidden. there were articles published about the withholding of treatment for a group of
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entirely african-american men. and it brought to light some of the worst fears that the united states government would actually allow such a thing to be traded -- perpetrated on a racial minority in the way it did. it lasted for 40 years which is a long time for an egregiously unethical study. host: a photo of a gentleman who , whose uncle was a victim of the tuskegee syphilis study. this is in the l.a. times. the headline says that the history, the legacy of that study stirs wariness in the black community over the covid-19 vaccine of the present day. what would you have to say about the covid-19 vaccine and how the african-american community is receiving that and how it moves forward based on the history echo -- history? prof. hogarth: while teske has a
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strong residence in the national memory i would like to emphasize that the idea of innate racial difference and exploitative treatment of african-americans is something we have a long history of in this country. the idea of vaccine hesitancy amongst african-american and black community is something i understand. i think the issue now going forward is to acknowledge the skepticism, acknowledge past grievances, acknowledge that there is a serious problem with racism in medicine and public health, then try to build bridges, then try to build trust. i see it more along the lines of having the medical profession public health officials work on building up their trust rather than assuming that african-american should just take -- take their word for it and trust them. host: we will put phone numbers on the bottom of the screen for our guest at the university of
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illinois, history professor. talking about the history of racism in public health. our guest has written extensively on this including on a book we will talk about in a little bit, called "medicaliziung -- "medicalizing blackness." prof. hogarth: in writing this book i wanted to understand how and when this notion of racial difference what i did through a lot of archival research, reading letters, medical treatises, newspapers, tracking down ideas that physicians held about black people's bodies. for example, one of the ideas i wanted to disrupt was this notion, these terrible beliefs
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about black people being innately different or inferior only emerged -- there were plenty of physicians who may have been opposed to slavery who were abolitionists that still trafficked in the idea that black people were innately different from whites. i tracked this from the late 18th century and followed it through the emergence of so-called black pathologies and slave diseases. i investigated histories of exploitative treatment of african-americans that was tied to the development of medical education. host: back to the tuskegee study, interview notes from a study subject from november of 1972. you can read these at archives.gov. "each year they took blood, sat down and talked, gave them some medicine." no one said anything to him about his health, they didn't say why they wanted him to be in
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the program. he just went along. we see more of these interview notes from the studies. what are your reflections on those notes? prof. hogarth: what this tells me is sort of the extreme i guess dominance and power the u.s. public health service had over many of these men who were participating in the study. the idea that you would have a government doctor come down and tell you that you are getting medicine and tell you to follow the protocol, to enlist the services of an african-american nurse to assist in the follow-up , and shows me that these men had faith in what people were telling them, even if they weren't maybe not feeling better, they supposed they must be doing something. you can see the authority of health care professionals as taking over and allow that to steer the --
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perhaps that maybe something is working even if they were not receiving any treatment whatsoever. >> who alerted the public to the tuskegee study. how is it stopped? -- has it stopped? prof. hogarth: there is evidence that a loans -- a loan physician did send a letter, this was in 1964 suggesting that this does not seem right and it seems immoral. what we do think of in terms of the final public exposure, he had worked for the public health service, no longer worked there. the issue was that he had heard about some of the studies going cash coming about of -- coming out of tuskegee being studied and said "i hope you are treating these men, you say it is untreated syphilis. you are looking at a population of entirely african-american men , just reporting the optics of this.
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he was getting pushed back and told it was fine and not to worry about it. i believe this was in 68 when he first started noticing there was something horribly wrong with the data that is being published. host: let's hear from chris in louisville, kentucky. you are on the air with dr. rana hogarth. caller: good morning, dr. hogarth. i live in kentucky but my family traces to alabama and my father was born in tuskegee. i have a history with this. to bring it up to today, i won't take it for the reason were talking about. after seeing president biden friday when he gave his press conference a mime kind of leaning towards it. i'm a veteran, i'm kind of leaning towards it, but what is keeping me not wanting to get it is because the former guy,
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before president biden, anything he had his hands on i'm skeptical about. my last question is, my real reason for skepticism is that they don't tell you how long it will last. they don't give you enough information, i know where the mask and all the protocols, but they don't give you any more information about how long it will last and who you can be around and how you should move around your community and that kind of thing. i think they need to do more education on vaccine coverage and how long. host: let's hear from our guest. prof. hogarth: i do appreciate this comment in question. when we are faced with something as novel as covid-19 situation, information is rapidly changing. i feel the frustration of what information do we have now and how we can move forward. i think that is an issue of
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effective public health communication of knowns and unknowns. i think there is a point particularly when you deal with the african-american community if you have already had to put up with a purposeful denying of information. that compels the situation. host: you are quoted in the usa today piece. the headline says "america has a history of medically abusing black people, no wonder many are wary of covid-19 vaccines." take us more into the history. you say this started before tuskegee. prof. hogarth: here's what i can do. i can outline what i have found my own research. for example if we go back to the late 18th century there were ideas that black people were innately immune to yellow fever or did not suffer as badly from the disease, and this is in comparison to whites.
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this idea gained quite a bit of currency and was circulated by a prominent american physician. it turns out during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic when americans -- doing this out of the belief they were going to be immune to the yellow fever. it turns out that's not the case. african-american people did contract yellow fever and we do see that while some physicians might have backtracked and said they are not entirely immune, they don't suffer as badly as whites. we see this from the same source, the same position who notes that black people might be slightly more -- this is from the late 18th century. for me to see this within medical writings from the 18th century and then perhaps read the 2016 study on racial bias and pain assessment where you have a survey of residents
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thinking that black people have thicker skin or their blood coagulates more quickly. i am seeing a continuity in these very damaging and incorrect ideas about innate racial difference. that is one example from the 18th century. i can think of many others in terms of medical information in the south where you have black people's bodies used for anatomical demonstration for teaching, being targeted by some medical colleges in the 19th century. host: let's hear from brad in international falls, is that minnesota? caller: that's correct. i am listening to her. i love this young little gal thinking its business but she likes to read what she writes to read and write what she likes to write. we are trying to put crutches under black people and that's wrong and i don't think they
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should be called african-american. was only one race, it's the human race. slavery is alive and well but i don't hear anyone talk about africa, blacks are the leading slave traders today. i think this is all just for misinformation and propaganda. i don't know what to think anymore. host: let's hear from our guest and seo she wants to respond. dr. rana hogarth, history professor at the university of illinois. prof. hogarth: as a person that did actually trained professionally as a historian, it is my job to look at data or evidence that actually does exist. when i go to archives i am reading the words written by white physicians from the 18th and 19th century. in a nutshell, i don't get to make things up as it were. to the point of the human race and there being one race, that would be a wonderful way to look at the world were it not for the
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fact that we still use racial categories when we collect data. in addition we still also have racial correction when we think about medical technologies. for example if you were to measure lung capacity with a barometer there is rick's correction built into that. if you were to measure kidney function there is a connection for adding more points to the kidney function if you are identified as black. it would be delightful to say we are all one race, it seems we have too many obstacles that are built into the medical profession to do so. host: darnell from kansas you are on the air. caller: can you hear me? ok. i want to make a comment. the tuskegee studies, that's well known, and you did allude to it, dr. hogarth,, that there
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has been a lot of discriminatory malpractice in the form of experimentation that has been done to african-american and other people of color throughout the history of this country. the tuskegee experiment was probably pretty mild compared to some of the stuff you are familiar with, medical apartheid and the history of medical examination on black americans from colonial times. that is very, is eye-opening and it will make you sick to know what happens to people. some of the history of this country, but were not even considered to be full human beings. getting back to the covid and the vaccine issue and why some folks are so reticent about
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taking it. we had the highest public health officials in this country not tell the truth. they stood up like cowards on the world stage when we had a maniac who has no medical experience coming up with all kinds of garbage. and to make matters worst, who do they have upfront, a black doctor and a black nurse, and anyone who has lived in this country who knows the history of this country knows that is not how things work. that was a suspect in and of itself. thank -- host: thank you for calling, let's hear from my guest. prof. hogarth: there is a very clear growing body of work that shows us that there have been past abuses of african-americans and other communities of color.
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i would say this is not helped by the fact that we have a lot of miscommunication in the early days -- dashing on simply showing that black person getting the vaccine -- i can see why that might be a favorite way of building trust but you have to remember -- i think what we need to think about is recalibrating the messaging, thinking about the optics and displays that we have when we were trying to be -- host: alicia from chicago, you are on the air. caller: first i wanted to address the individuals receiving the vaccine such as president biden and others. that is --
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to impress us is not enough. how do we know we are getting the same vaccine or ingredients if you will that they are getting? second, they still have not done enough research, enough studies that it's safe later down the line. i have not taken the vaccination . third i'm not sure if this is factual or not but i did see some research that stated that they used it or they used the vaccine on some animals and all of the animals died. i'm not sure if that's factual but i did do some research on that. host: thank you. thoughts on that collar? prof. hogarth: what i would say is, in terms of information i would say to everyone, please try to verify the sources. we are living in an age where we are so able to assess and
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ferment -- access information on the web and it can appear to be factual or true and it can also possibly be completely made up area i would urge -- the think about the sources you are getting information from and think more broadly about what misinformation means and pair that with the kind of conundrum we are faced in the middle of this pandemic. host: rana hogarth is a history professor at the university of >> this is c-span's online store at c spon.org. with the 117th congress in session, we are taking preorders. it supports c-span's nonprofit operations. shop today at c-span

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