No, Dionne Warwick, Black Americans shouldn’t avoid the Covid vaccine

There is a difference between understanding, and sympathizing with, why many African Americans are leery of a Covid vaccine, and choosing to reinforce those fears. Like with many things race, American science has a sordid history of mistreating Black Americans.

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The infamous “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” was conducted by the US Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1932 until 1972. The researchers examined the long-term progression of untreated syphilis in 399 Black men who were never informed of their diagnosis — and instead were outright lied to — putting their lives, and those around them, at risk. Throughout the “study,” the men were never treated with the eventual-cure, penicillin.

So it is eminently understandable why many African-Americans wouldn’t trust the US government’s medical advice when it comes to the safety of the Coronavirus vaccine — once burned, twice shy. It is less understandable, however, why public figures with large megaphones would stoke those fears, rather than attempt to alleviate them. You can understand someone’s fear without reinforcing it, particularly when that fear is putting their health at risk.

Washington Post writer, and MSNBC host, Jonathan Capehart, who is himself African-American, penned a piece in today’s paper, titled: “Dionne Warwick wasn’t exactly wrong about the coronavirus vaccine.” The famed singer recently appeared on Capehart’s TV show, where she expressed reluctance when asked whether she would take the Coivid vaccine:

“No. Not yet. It’s a choice that everybody has to make, and that’s my choice is to wait and see. It still takes a good minute to be proven to be quite effective. So I’m going to give it a chance to be effective.”

In the rest of the article, Capehart explains why he agrees that African-Americans should “wait” to get the Covid vaccine:

What really irked me were the messages I received from viewers who immediately dubbed Warwick an anti-vaxxer. It was an accusation that completely missed the nuance of what she said. “Waiting” is not the same as “never,” and neither Warwick nor my mother, for that matter, ever said, “Never.” It’s a distinction without a difference unless you’re Black, especially a Black person of Warwick’s and my mother’s generation. In that distinction is the difference between safeguarding one’s health and being experimented on.

His is not an essay explaining why African-Americans are afraid of getting the vaccine. It’s an essay telling them that their fear is justified, and arguing that they should avoid the vaccine for now. That’s wrong.

Read the rest of this story over at my new Substack newsletter, CyberDisobedience.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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