Generations of Mistrust Through the Negative Encounters with Doctors in the Book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Categories: Deborah Lacks

In the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta lacks, author Rebecca Skloot explains how the continuous negative encounters with doctors can lead to generations of mistrust. What else can someone expect from people that had suffered since they were little children. All four of Henrietta’s kids suffered abuse by some members of their family, and later on their lives they find out their mother had suffered a lot on the hands of some doctors from Hopkins. Henrietta’s kids felt how the different medical institutions have been taking advantage of their family.

Rebecca Skloot explains, “ Gangrene was spreading from Day’s toes to his knee; his doctor said his toes needed amputating, but Day refuse. He said he didn’t want doctors cutting on him like they did to Henrietta.”(163). With all this Henrietta’s family demonstrate they were all afraid of what doctors can do to their bodies. They all thought by allowing a doctor to touch any part of their bodies they would suffer the same luck their mother suffered.

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Henrietta’s children were afraid of all doctors specially doctors from Hopkins, even Bobbette who didn’t met Henrietta was afraid because back then, African American parents used to tell stories about the night doctors, and their experiments on the African American community, and after learning what happened to Henrietta they felt all those stories were real.

Henrietta’s family believed the doctors had experimented on their mother and instead of curing her they had made her sickness worst.

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Many Americans now days don’t want to go to the doctor because they feel afraid to what would happened to them. There are a many news on T.V. and the Internet talking about the way doctors neglect their patients. Instead of feeling more secure communities like the African American feel more violated. After many years of hearing what happened to Henrietta, her family felt a strong rejection to anything related to doctors and their institutions they strongly believed doctors would only harm them instead of helping. Skloot explained, “ At fifty-two Sonny felt the same way; his doctors said he needed angioplasty, but he swore he’d never do it.”(163) this restates the way the family felt they did not trust doctors. Angioplasty is a surgery where doctors need to open clogged blood arteries, if not treated patients are at risk of suffering a heart attack, but sonny didn’t care he just didn’t trust doctors anymore. All of Henrietta’s family felt deceived by the different institutions and its doctors. Sonny, Deborah, Lawrence and Zakariyya were not going to let any of those doctors touch them anymore.

Now days the African American Community are still afraid to what doctors can do to them. If they think about The Tuskegee Syphilis study they probably feel disgusted and powerless to what doctors did to African Americans. In this article the Christian century explained how hard was for the African-American community to go to the doctors and get tested for AIDS. The christian century stated. “A lack of knowledge within the African-American community about AIDS and the HIV retrovirus is rooted in a deep mistrust of white medical professionals, partly because of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, African-American clergy leaders said May 24 during a weeklong conference on AIDS.” All these proves that the mistrust a community has towards doctors can last a lifetime The Tuskegee Syphilis studies happened approximately 93 years ago and many of the African American community still are afraid of doctors, diseases like Aids can spread quickly and to be afraid of the only ones who understand and can help with this disease is not a good thing.

As humans we have to think and learn from the past. we have the capacity to think and differentiate the good from the bad. This society has to learn to treat others with respect and love. Now days our society don’t judge by the color of the skin as mush as before. now, there are different kinds of abuse towards minorities and people that are vulnerable, the world has to learn that at the end we are all the same, they have to take Henrietta Lacks as an example. For a long time, many scientists didn’t know the person who contributed so much with humanity was an African American. Thanks to her we have the polio vaccine and scientists had discovered many ways to use Henrietta’s cells to benefit humanity. Who would think, a Black woman was going to be able to help this world the way she did. It’s sad to think how she suffered and the fact that she had to leave her children brakes everybody’s heart, But as her family explain, they believe this was Henrietta’s purpose in life, they also believed how something greater than us use Henrietta as a tool to help us all. Henrietta’s family believed all this was gods will and a way to show us how the eternal life was real, many of Henrietta’s family believed Henrietta is an angel created by god because, this world need it her.

Work Cited

  1. “AIDS Crisis among Blacks Tied to Mistrust of Doctors.” The Christian Century Jul 2000: 749. ProQuest. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.
  2. Skloot, Rebecca. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” New York: Crown, 2010. Print.
Cite this page

Generations of Mistrust Through the Negative Encounters with Doctors in the Book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (2022, Feb 15). Retrieved from

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