Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Healing Hands

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Healing Hands

Article excerpt

Healing Hands

The history of Africans in the Americas is full of tragic stories about needless suffering and loss of life. Even today, at the threshold of the 21st century, African Americans continue to experience social, economic, and biological maladies at a rate that is disproportionate to their presence among the U.S. population. And too often, when anyone dares to ask "why?," the answers are rooted in speculation and rumor, rather than based on well-researched scientific data.

U.S. history, however, is also rich in tales about Black people who have used their intellect, talents, and initiative to solve confounding and seemingly insoluble problems. Several such people are featured in this edition.

Our cover story highlights the work of Dr. Patrick Allen, a savvy AIDS researcher who believes more Black professionals must become involved in biomedical research if the health inequities that plague our communities are ever to be obliterated.

The history of federal funding of scientific research involving African Americans is littered with incidents that have made Black people wary of the medical establishment. The shadow of the Tuskegee experiment is one such example. Then, there is the experience of the Howard University Sickle Cell Anemia Research Center. For years the center fought for meager research dollars. Then one day the federal government decided to expand this funding and spread it among several institutions, and voilà! Suddenly, there were breakthroughs in sickle cell research. Yet, instead of wondering whether the previous slow pace of progress was attributable to a lack of adequate financial investment, critics accused Howard of frittering away the money it had been getting all those years.

Too few historically Black institutions have the research complexes needed to compete effectively for major biological research dollars. …

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