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Monday, May 7, 2012

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Revisited

Hello Readers,

In searching out some discussion questions for this book I am constantly confronted with the moral questions that face everyone.
           Was Henrietta treated differently because she was black, a woman, from the south, etc.?
           Was it wrong for Gey to pass on her cells for research to further advance science?
           Was the Lacks family treated poorly because they were black, poor, etc.?
Etc., etc., etc.

We can all sit here in 2012 and judge what happened in the 1950's but that is the way it was.  Bio-ethics is such an important part of our world today.  Just consider how many times you are sent and given privacy notices from doctors, banks, credit card accounts, etc.  If anyone wants to comment on the ethical questions in this book, please do.  There was an article online about the following organization while I was reading this book and it gave me great and little concern. Little if I don't really think too hard about the entire concept  - great when it comes to our bodies, property, national security.

Kopimi, an anti-copyright initiative developed by the PiratbyrĂ„n, a Swedish organization actively opposing modern copyright law and practices, and the previous operators of BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay, before it was spun off as an independent organization.
  Find more information at:

I will have more to say in the coming days about the story of Henrietta Lacks.  In the meantime, have a wonderful day.

Happy Reading,

1 comment:

  1. Dear Blog Master,
    I want to apologize for being so far behind with reading, and I wanted to comment on some of my thoughts on Henrietta Lacks. Even though I am not quite done (100 pages to go.
    While your questions are probing about many topics, I am ignoring the Bio Ethics implications as I have been reading. In my head as I read all I can focus on are the Racial/societal issues the book brings to my mind.
    First anyone who knows me realizes I am no Liberal White Guilt Milk toast. What has happened in the past cannot be changed and we all have had obstacles to overcome in our lives. I was never a slaveholder, member of the Klan and certainly did not experience life in the Jim Crow South. However, as a matter of course many of my perceptions about African Americans were shaped by: My Parents and Peers, augmented by my personal experiences. These were all through a prism of my culture and history as I understood grew up.
    Now think about the prism that Deborah sees the world-a heck of different perception about Doctor's, "White People", the System etc. Deborah in terms of age is not much different from me. Here experiences etc, have shaped how she has passed along here cultural prejudices etc to her family and heirs. Not sure how anyone could deny the fact that her views on society and Black treatment in it would not be jaded. I related to our blog master a story from my own experience. In 1977 I was working as a manager for Reliance Insurance Company. I had about 15 people working for me about 1/3 black. Most of the black women grew up in "old Florida, likely under some Jim Crowe. I for efficiency purposes reorganized many job duties, actually giving a very competent Black Women more overall responsibilty (at least in my eyes). Imagine my surprise and how I felt when the 5 black women came to me and accused me of racism. You see in realigning duties I had relieved her of what I saw as a task that was a waste of here time....Printing checks. The perceptions of the Black Women was I did not trust her with Money!
    We worked through that all but believe me I felt like they were the time. As years go by I have thought about that incident often and have come to realize that sometimes we all need to be patient when people are expressing what we think are ridiculous issues, and try to get to the root of the issue-not just fight back with..your nuts etc. I wish our leaders..on both sides of the aisle would do the same!

    Anyway GREAT thought provoking choice for April Barbara. Your work is appreciated by this reader for sure!