Black Activists Demand Statue Of 19th-Century Gynecologist Who Experimented On Black Women Be Removed
J. Marion Sims used enslaved black women to advance medical procedures.
In the past week, a number of controversial monuments memorializing the Confederacy have been taken down, but now there is a new development in the movement to rid the nation of monuments idolizing white supremacy.
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On Saturday, Aug. 19, a group of young women from the activist group Black Youth Project 100 demonstrated in front of a statue of infamous 19th-century gynecologist J. Marion Sims in New York. The demonstrators wore hospital gowns stained with pink dye to symbolize blood to make a statement on the horror his victims faced.
It is common knowledge that he used enslaved black women to perform his procedures and experiments so that white women ultimately could benefit.In a Facebook post from the group's page, their call to take down the statue dedicated to the man went viral.
“J. Marion Sims was a gynecologist in the 1800s who purchased Black women slaves and used them as guinea pigs for his untested surgical experiments,” they wrote in the post. “He repeatedly performed genital surgery on Black women WITHOUT ANESTHESIA because according to him, ‘Black women don’t feel pain.’”
The statue stands outside of the New York Academy of Medicine almost excusing Sims' methodology.“We cannot get over our history of white supremacy until we acknowledge it,” the protest’s organizer Seshat Mack says in a Now This video of the protest. “When we say that this country and its institutions are literally built on the bodies of black people, we’re not exaggerating, and we’re not lying.”
J. Marion Sims, "father of modern gynecology", memorialized for performing genital surgery on Black woman slaves w/o anesthesia or consent pic.twitter.com/p5hE8S7uCv— BYP100 (@BYP_100) August 19, 2017
This statue memorializes a gynecologist who experimented on slave women without anesthesia – but New York City won't take it down pic.twitter.com/5nOMfNrOUs— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 21, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for a 90-day review of any “hate symbols." One of these is the Sims statue.
"Mayor de Blasio has stated that the J. Marion Sims statue will be one of the statues NYC will look at removing for being symbols of hate," Mack told Blavity. "This is a good step, but many of us feel that there doesn't need to be further discussion — the statue needs to come down ASAP."
Black Youth Project 100 spokesperson Alexandra Quinn Anderson told Blavity that we can expect to see more actions like this one from the organization. "Our next steps involve supporting the work that has taken place over the past decade as well as continuing to confront symbols and systems that uphold white supremacy."