Black community’s distrust of medical field stems from years of mistreatment, ASU professor says

Feb 17, 2022, 4:45 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The COVID-19 pandemic pointed out many holes in the medical field, but one issue that came to light was the distrust the Black community had in the system.

Arizona State University history professor Curtis Austin, who studies African American history with a focus on Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, explains the Black community’s lack of trust in the medical field stems all the way back to the Civil War when doctors would use them as test subjects.

“Because they needed Black bodies to take on this research, they often went to slave plantations,” Austin said. “From the very beginning, the medical profession was not kind to Africans in America.”

The testing on African Americans continued decades later, including with Syphilis trials in the 1930s.

“State doctors, federal government-related doctors did these experiments on Black people to see what the Syphilis disease would do without them knowing,” Austin said.

Austin added African Americans still face racism in the healthcare system today.

“Blacks have the highest infant immortality rates in the county and it’s not because they are different from other human beings, but it’s because of their lack of access,” Austin said.

He said the continued mistreatment of the Black community in the healthcare system created a perfect storm of doubt when it came to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a very serious pandemic and here we have essentially white doctors saying to follow the science … but there’s that history that creates a high level of doubt about whether it’s actually going to do that,” Austin said.

Valley nonprofit HeroZona hopes to overcome the distrust and close the vaccination gap.

Alan “AP” Powell, the founding chairman of the HeroZona Foundation, says the organization has tried different ways to engage and educate the community about vaccinations.

“We actually did something unique, we went to Scottsdale and we did a panel with all the DJs and influencers of Scottsdale,” Powell said.

Powell said after the event people were asking where the closest place to get a COVID-19 vaccine was.

“One of the things we figured out when we initially started doing the vaccine outreach is you have to have people who look like you to trust the vaccination,” Austin said.

The nonprofit continues to see vaccinations go up in the Black community, with Powell adding HeroZona has already helped vaccinate over 60,000 people.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Putting World)...

Putting World, with 18-hole indoor course, opens in Scottsdale

Putting World, a new putting venue featuring an 18-hole indoor course, opened in Scottsdale.
1 day ago
(ADOT Photo)...

Here are the top 10 most popular specialty license plates in Arizona in 2022

The Arizona Department of Transportation on Wednesday released its 10 most popular custom plates designs of 2022. There was a repeat winner.
1 day ago
The WM Phoenix Open is a major economic driver. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
Kevin Stone

2022 WM Phoenix Open drove economic impact of over $450M, study finds

The WM Phoenix Open pumped nearly half a billion dollars into the local economy last year, according to an economic impact study.
1 day ago
(Getty Images Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Bryan Adams running to Phoenix with help from Joan Jett

Bryan Adams’ So Happy It Hurts Tour comes to Footprint Center in Phoenix this summer with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
1 day ago
Armando Real (Photo via Arizona Department of Public Safety)...

Silver Alert issued for Phoenix man last seen near 24th Street and Buckeye

Authorities issued a Silver Alert on Thursday for a missing Phoenix man who was last seen a day earlier near 24th Street and Buckeye Road.
1 day ago
(City of Buckeye Photo)...

Buckeye to move forward with $80 million water rights agreement

A West Valley city has secured a source of water for a minimum of 100 years after approving an $80 million deal this week.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Black community’s distrust of medical field stems from years of mistreatment, ASU professor says