Iowa Equity Challenge Day 13

Day 13 of 21



The United States has a long history of medical inequities.

Sadly, much of our medical knowledge came from researchers who used people of color for medical experimentation without their consent and/or knowledge. Some of the most notable cases are the Tuskegee StudyHenrietta Lacks, and gynecological surgery performed on female slaves. 


Today, medical studies must go through rigorous evaluations and be approved by an ethics committee prior to implementation. But medical inequities have not disappeared, as many of us have witnessed during the past 18 months. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the health disparities in America’s communities of color in such dramatic fashion that racism is now seen as a public health emergency.”

- David Skorton, M.D., president and CEO of AAMC


The chart below shows COVID-19 cases and deaths in Iowa by race and ethnicity. It is an example of a historical pattern: marginalized populations — either by wealth, race, or other factors — suffer from worse health outcomes. You’ll learn more about this history in today’s activities.



Image Source: The COVID Tracking Project 



Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the history of medical experimentation on people of color.
  • Consider how historical experimentation has impacted people of color today.
  • Recognize trends regarding which groups have been more affected by COVID-19.


Today's Activities


Choose one or more of these daily activities to learn about today’s topic. Plan to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to complete the activities and journal about your thoughts and feelings. 


Watch “Do No Harm: Black Medical Exploitation - Why African Americans Distrust Medicine” (9:57) from Extra Credits to learn about historical medical experimentation on people of color and its continued impact today.


Listen to “History Of Medical Testing Has Left Many African Americans Hesitant About The New COVID-19 Vaccine” (4:02) from Capital Public Radio to hear a Black man from California describe his mistrust of the COVID-19 vaccine due to past medical injustice.


Read “Racial health disparities highlighted by COVID-19” (4 min) from the University of Iowa’s health care publication to learn why Black individuals are dying more often than white Iowans. 


Capture what you learned by writing down your thoughts and feelings about today's content.

  • What was your “aha moment” (moment of surprise or new information)?
  • Does this information change your perspective?
  • How will you use what you learned today to create more equitable spaces? 
  • How has COVID-19 impacted your life? Do you think this impact would have been different if you were another race or ethnicity?

Download a free journal page for today.



Additional Resources & Activities


If you would like to dig deeper into this issue, check out these additional resources. We encourage you to revisit this material when you have more time. Feel free to come back to this topic as often as you’d like!




Share your reflections on today’s topic on social media using the hashtag #IowaEquityChallenge.



Next Topic: Redlining