Real Talk | Miseducation about the vaccination –– why people of color mistrust medicine



As I write this article, I have spent the last year as most of us have –– isolated, socially distanced and careful often times in fear or thinking about the unknown such as where did this virus come dfrom? Why does this virus have such an impact on the human body and how did this pandemic spread across the world?

As we adjusted and readjusted to CDC regulations and government inconsistencies and state lock downs and phases of reopening, we looked up and a year has passed. With this chaotic year came the long awaited vaccinations, the hope for a sense of normalcy.

However, the constant conflict whether to mask or not to mask went from an individual choice to a political construct. Then the option of the vaccine conversation began to take place. As many eagerly anticipated and hoped to become vaccinated, many people of color remain skeptical not just of the vaccination itself but of the government intentions.

From the beginning of time, Black Americans have had a valid lack of trust for the government and medicine, whether it was the extraction of HeLa cells of Henrietta Lacks or the illegal subjection of Black men and the injection of syphilis with the Tuskegee airmen. These examples of the disparity in medical treatment and the lack of treatment daily for those in Brown and Black communities even prior to the pandemic have further deepened this lack of trust. Therefore, this vaccination is not seen as the choice of rescue for many in Black and Brown communities but as a constant fear that the government is not to be trusted. This is grounded in psychological trauma of mistrust of government entities that have misused people of color for centuries.

As most rest with assurances that the vaccination plan is what America needs, others continue to realize the division of trust and if history will continue to repeat itself with the government and people of color.

As conversations continue to encourage people to trust that this is best for us as a whole, marginalized groups that have been ensnared by the government and medicine in the past don’t find it easy trusting that this is the better option. Or is this another experiment that will end with people of color being medical human guinea pigs?
As we move forward returning to our new sense of normalcy, we must remember that the government and medicine has not always built the most trusting relationship with people of color in this country.

There is a history of why people of color mistrust medicine, and it did not begin with the pandemic. However, to get vaccinated or not still causes anxiety due to the poor treatment of Blacks and medicine.

We can’t erase the harsh history of medicine and how the government created this mistrust.

Out of 30 people I have spoken to in the last week, only eight including myself are getting vaccinated.

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