Social Black Experience Research Paper
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" (Adams et al.)
What the report went on to show was how a decades long deception was practiced on a race that was viewed primarily as a guinea pig for medical science.
The Tuskegee Institute had been established by Booker T. Washington. Claude McKay had passed through there in 1912 to study agriculture (under the patronage of Walter Jekyll, a man who provided the basis for Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror tale character). Around the same time that Eleanor Dwight Jones was striving to preserve the white race, the United States Public Health Service began the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. What took place was a forty year analysis of the life of syphilis. The two hundred black men who had syphilis were "deliberately denied treatment" (Adams et al.) in what was just one more step in oppression and callous social engineering.
And at the same time the Tuskegee experiment was going on, W.E.B. Du Bois was focusing on the "Negro problem" again -- only now in Africa. Missing the social ramifications of the elitist platform that reduced life to a Malthusian principle and an economic conundrum, Du Bois failed to recognize where the dagger was hiding. Economics were only part of the problem for the plight of the Negro. The overwhelming portion of that problem was the elitist culture that served as a kind of prop for Du Bois himself. As long as he continued to say things like, "Unless this question of racial status is frankly and intelligently faced, it will become a problem not simply of Africa but of the world," ("The Realities in Africa" 231), he was no threat to the liberal white establishment. As soon as one began to attack the ethos at the heart of WASP America, he had to be silenced (like McKay and Eldridge Cleaver after him).
One-time leader of the Black Panthers, Cleaver would become the ex-Panther ex-con author of Soul on Fire -- a kind of Christian apologetic and a 180 degree turn from his book Soul on Ice written over a decade earlier while incarcerated for rape. Once Cleaver became a revolutionary in the opposite direction (away from the rhetoric backed by the cultural elite), he ceased to hold any import in the realm of politics, and he was forgotten by the liberal movement that had formed behind him. The anger that Cleaver represented before his conversion, however, had been a by-product of Malcolm X's crusade to bring violent revolution to the streets of urban America. Violence, of course, has always played right into the hands of those willing to take control. The French Revolution produced Napoleon. The Civil Rights movement did nothing more than cement the walls protecting the American oligarchy: as William Julius Wilson notes, "African-Americans still have the highest rates of concentrated poverty of all groups in the United States" (58). Such is not by accident, but by careful organization of the ruling class. Yet such would seem to be untrue: After all, the counter-culture movement that took place from the Sixties onward seemed to have the Negro at the heart of it -- but the Negro had always been used as the puppet of the oligarchy. When that puppet threatened to step out of line, the oligarchy had tricks to snap it back into place.
Such was exactly what happened with Project MKULTRA. In 1977, Sen. Edward Kennedy testified before the Ninety-Fifth Congress following "reports of the abuses of the drug testing program and reports of other previously unknown drug programs and projects for behavioral control" ("Project MKULTRA" 2). What the Senate Health Subcommittee uncovered, according to Kennedy, was
Chilling testimony about the human experimentation activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over 30 universities and institutions were involved in an 'extensive testing and experimentation' which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens…Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to 'unwitting subjects in social institutions.' ("Project MKULTRA" 2)
The death of Dr. Frank Olson in 1953 was one of the early signs of the operation. Richard Helms, director of the CIA, would two decades later consign all records of the Project to the flames. But a deeper probe revealed that the number of universities involved in the experiment was nearly one hundred. Kennedy put the matter bluntly: "The Central Intelligence Agency drugged American citizens without their knowledge or consent. It used university facilities and personnel without their knowledge. It funded leading researchers, often without their knowledge" ("Project MKULTRA" 3). The question was why?
Mark Stahlman pointed to the English conspiracy, which paralleled the WASP elitist mindset of cuius region, eius religio.
Al Hubbard…the Johnny Appleseed of LSD…renounced his U.S.
...To be sure, San Francisco's cultural scene has long been shaped by its close association with English intellectuals and social engineers. (Stahlman)
Jones, going back to the death of Dr. Olson, however, sees it as a continuation of the policy of the ruling powers of America to control, manipulate and marginalize rather than co-operate: and at the heart of it was the subjugation and/or elimination of "undesirables": "The Rockefeller Commission claimed that Olson jumped out of the hotel window in the midst of an LSD-induced psychosis, but Olson's son Eric thinks he was murdered because he was appalled by the human experimentation that was going on and prepared to blow the whistle on it" (Jones 485). Kevin Dowlings and Philip Knightley reported in 1998 that "the long-term aim of these experiments with mind-altering drugs is thought by those who have studied the MK-Ultra programme to have been to ensure the dominance of Anglo-American civilization in what eugenicists call the 'war of all against all -- the key to evolutionary success'" (13).
Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain likewise point out the conspiracy to control through the funneling of drugs into the American subculture: "Nearly every drug that appeared on the black market during the 1960s -- marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP, amyinitrate, mushrooms, DMT, barbiturates, laughing gas, speed, and many others -- had previously been scrutinized, tested, and in some cases refined by CIA and army scientists" (10) and places like Haight-Ashbury became known as "human guinea pig farms" (Lee, Shlain 148).
Initially, the Black Panther movement wanted nothing to do with the white liberals who were trashing themselves on LSD while gorging on Beatle-mania. Hendrix was despised by black militants, and those same black militants were fed up with the oppression their people had been suffering at the hands of the WASP elitists who had been claiming to be their friends for decades -- even as they attempted to reduce their number and destroy their morals: "The Panthers rejected the goal of assimilation into a system they saw as repressive and inhumane…The black nationalist culture, with its dashikis, tiger-tooth necklaces, and afro haircuts, often espoused values similar to those of the white counterculture: spontaneity, simplicity, respect for individuality and ethnic identity, cooperation rather than competition, and so forth" (Lee, Shlain 163). The Panthers' drug of choice was marijuana and cocaine -- not LSD. Nonetheless, it was none other than Eldridge Cleaver who guided the Panthers into an alliance with the acid-dropping street activists -- an alliance that "sent chills up the spine of the political establishment in the United States" (Lee, Shlain 164). The alliance did not last long, however. As Cleaver himself admitted: "Something's wrong with Leary's brain….We want people to gather their wits, sober up and get down to the serious business of destroying the Babylonian empire" (Lee, Shlain 206). Cleaver would change his mind about how that empire could be destroyed (by turning away from street warfare and to Christian living). That was the ultimate lesson the ex-Panther had to give to the black community that never really stood a chance in the WASP culture that wanted only to sterilize it, misguide it, and keep it in abject poverty.
From the Jim Crow army of WWII ("It appeared as if the army never let a black man outrank a white man in any kind of working relationship" (Morehouse 28)) to James Cone's observation that "most churches see an irreconcilable conflict between Christianity and Black Power" (3), the black experience can be seen as one of dehumanization. Cone's assessment of the "dehumanizing social structure" that upholds the modern enslavement principle is readily viewed everywhere and quietly allowed: "What churchmen, laymen, and ministers alike apparently fail to recognize is their contribution to the ghetto-condition through permissive silence" (Cone 3).
In conclusion, the…
Sources Used in Documents:
Adams, Myrtle, et al. "Final Report of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Legacy Committee."
1996. Web. 8 June 2011.
Cone, James. Risks of Faith. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1999. Print.
Dowlings, Keven, and Knightley, Philip. "The Spy Who Came Back from the Grave."
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