by Kenny AndersonIt’s ironic that 2 Black males ‘Tony Tolbert and Frank Russell’ were outstanding basketball players at the University of Detroit Mercy both ‘allegedly’ dying from COVID-19, they died a month apart; what’s more ironic I knew both of them.
Fifty year-old Tolbert from Detroit who died last month averaged 20.4 points his first season at University of Detroit Mercy, then 23.6 his second season after transferring from the University of Michigan. Tolbert twice earned first-team all-MCC honors and led the Titans to the 1994 MCC tournament championship.
Pontiac’s own Frank Russell 72 died this month, Russell was a standout basketball player at the University of Detroit where he was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Frank went on to play basketball professionally in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) Black folks are the least vaccinated demographic group, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which estimates that 25% of the Black population in the US is fully vaccinated.
Of the US population that is fully vaccinated, only 9% are Black and this contributes along with not wearing masks to Black folks internally spreading and dying disproportionately from COVID-19, a death rate of over 2.4 times higher than whites. Dr. Reed Tuckson co-founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID states:
“Much of the ongoing hesitancy with Black people is fueled by distrust in White America due to racism in health care, voter suppression, and disparities in the criminal justice system. There are also lingering myths such as the vaccine will interact with your DNA and impact fertility or that if people eat healthy they don't need a vaccine which national health leaders have dismissed all of these claims.”
Studies have found that many Black folks refuse to get vaccinated because of the nation's history of racism in medical research particularly the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Tuskegee, Alabama.
The study was conducted from 1932 through 1972 by the United States government on more than 600 Black men. More than 100 Black men died from syphilis or its complications by the end of the study.
In an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy, descendants of the men involved in Tuskegee recently spoke out in a short form documentary for the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative's COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative.
In the documentary the family members set the record straight on what happened. Omar Neal the former mayor of Tuskegee whose uncle Freddie Lee Tyson was part of the experiment says the Tuskegee study is very different from what's happening with Covid-19.
According to family members there have been widespread misunderstandings of the study, for example many Black folks believe that researchers injected Black men with syphilis but that's not true. Researchers told the Black men they had come to Tuskegee to cure “Bad Blood,” but never told them they had syphilis, and the government doctors never intended to cure the men.
Since September is ‘Black Reading Month’ I recommend that Black folks read “Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment” by James H. Jones.