by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
The United States has always been a killing machine, slaughtering Black nonwhites by every means possible. “Human experimentation, mass incarceration, state-sponsored police murders are merely the symptoms of an oppressive white supremacist/capitalist system.”
Black WWII Soldiers Gassed by US Government and the Connection to Black Lives Matter
by BAR editor and columnist Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
“Japanese-Americans and Puerto Ricans were also victims of race-based chemical experiments.”
African-American men imbued with the highest commitment of serving the homeland, were used as human guinea pigs by a government that viewed them as chattel. For many African-American men, joining the armed forces during WWII was a public declaration of their loyalty and commitment to full citizenship. However, it would have been impossible for Black WWII soldiers to imagine that signing up to “protect the world against fascism” would expose them to white supremacist experimentation that can only be described as depraved. These soldiers were committed to the war against Germany – the end of genocide and vile Nazi medical experiments. Instead, they became the subjects of a heinous American medical experiment.
From Rollins Edwards, a WWII US Army victim of US medical experimentation, to Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, the US government and all of the components of white supremacy have shown complete contempt for the lives of African people.
According to a new NPR report, the US Defense Department recently admitted that it carried out a campaign against African-American men as a part of its research on human exposure to deadly mustard gas. Approximately 60,000 Black men were ordered to participate in a “classified” chemical weapons testing program. The soldiers were exposed to toxic and potentially fatal chemicals while enclosed in a gas chamber.
Rollins Edwards, a WWII US Army victim of the mustard gas experiment explained:
“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on Black skins… You had no choice. You did not know where you were going. They didn’t tell you anything.”
The report reveals that Japanese-Americans and Puerto Ricans were also victims of the race-based chemical experiment to “determine the impact of mustard gas and other toxic chemicals on humans.”
“Approximately 60,000 Black men were exposed to toxic and potentially fatal chemicals while enclosed in a gas chamber.”
While Army Col. Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon, claims that “the Department of Defense does not conduct chemical weapons testing any longer” there is a long history of the government using African-Americans as laboratory rats.
From 1932-1972, the US Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Alabama conducted human experiments on unsuspecting citizens in Macon County, Alabama. The goal of this Nazi-like experiment was to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. The government targeted impoverished sharecroppers in rural Alabama. These men were enticed by the government’s offer of “free medical care, meals and free burial insurance.“
The experiment consisted of 399 men with late latent syphilis and 201 men without syphilis. None of the infected men were ever told by treating physicians that they had syphilis or offered treatment, even after penicillin had proven efficacious. The government callously lied to the victims, telling them that they suffered from “bad blood.”
On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton formally apologized for the Tuskegee experiment during a White House ceremony for surviving Tuskegee study victims. He said:
"What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry ... To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist."
“What was done cannot be undone? Really? How convenient to concede defeat when experimentation seems to disproportionately impact communities of color? Before President Clinton’s White House mea copa human experimentation has held a long and sickening chapter in US history."
“There is a long history of the government using African-Americans as laboratory rats.”
For example, in 1965, seventy prisoners at Holmesburg State Prison in Philadelphia were subjected to dioxin exposure. Dioxin is a highly toxic and deadly chemical component of Agent Orange that was used in Viet Nam.
The New York Times reported:
“The 70, whose identities have been sought without success by investigators for the Environmental Protection Agency, are the only people known to have been deliberately exposed to measured external doses of dioxin. All were subjects of tests commissioned by the Dow Chemical Company and conducted in the 1960's on the skin of inmates who volunteered at Holmesburg Prison in Northeast Philadelphia.
“Dioxin, a chemical byproduct found in some herbicides, has proved lethal in small doses to laboratory animals… causing a skin condition known as chloracne.”
More serious effects, however, have been suspected, including cancer and liver and kidney damage. Many veterans, among 20,000 who have filed a joint suit against several chemical companies, have attributed a variety of ailments, including birth defects in their children and malignant tumors, to exposure to dioxin in Agent Orange, a herbicide used for defoliation in Vietnam. The chemical companies deny the ailments are caused by dioxin.
In an article entitled, A History of US Secret Human Experimentation, we learn:
“In 1970, the United States intensifies its development of ‘ethnic weapons’ (Military Review, Nov., 1970), designed to selectively target and eliminate specific ethnic groups who are susceptible due to genetic differences and variations in DNA.”
“Seventy prisoners at Holmesburg State Prison in Philadelphia were subjected to dioxin exposure.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has played a deleterious role in a number of human experimentations on Black and low-income communities:
In October 2005, the American Chemistry Council provided the Environmental Protection Agency with 2.1 million dollars to investigate how children – ranging in age from infancy to 3 years old – “ingest, inhale or absorb chemicals.” The program was ‘appropriately’ called: the CHEERS program.” The EPA paid poor Florida families to “spray or have pesticides sprayed inside your home routinely.” These families were asked to observe their children and to record any impacts of exposure to the chemicals. This experiment was paid for by the American Chemistry Council, which represents 135 companies including pesticide manufacturers. The Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study was to monitor developmental changes in babies who were exposed to pesticides in their homes.
The participants in the CHEERS experiment were given a camcorder (to record their babies' reaction to the chemicals) bibs, t-shirts and other promotional items. Families were recruited from public clinics and hospitals and paid $970.00 for the 2-year investigation.
The CHEERS experiment was terminated in 2005 as a result of massive public condemnation.
The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and hundreds of other Black men and women help complete the narrative that outlines the intricate web that defines the total disregard by the US government of African lives. Human experimentation, mass incarceration, state-sponsored police murders are merely the symptoms of an oppressive white supremacist/capitalist system. Only a strong and focused mass movement, disconnected from traditional power centers and illusions of reforms can tackle this challenge.
At what point will African-Americans join with the late Nelson Mandela and declare:
“We no longer accept the authority of a state that makes war on its own people.”
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha's successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet, serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com and coordinates the DC-based Hands-Up Coalition.