TeLinde often used patients from the public wards for research, usually without their knowledge. Many scientists believed that since patients were treated for free in the public wards, it was fair to use them as research subjects as a form of payment . . . as Howard Jones once wrote, ‘Hopkins, with its large indigent black population, had no dearth of clinical material.’
This quotation from Chapter 3 describes and contextualizes the attitudes that allowed for scientists to take Henrietta’s cells without her consent or knowledge. Jones’s additional comment makes it clear that in the context of Johns Hopkins, poverty is often racialized as black. When the book later discusses the foundation of Hopkins, it suggests that Johns Hopkins, the founder, wished to provide medical care specifically with the poor black population of Baltimore with in mind. However, the attitudes expressed in this quote signifies that Hopkins doesn’t truly offer their medical care freely, but with the stipulation that they would only treat this poor population in exchange for the use of their bodies as material for medical research. This transactional, strings-attached approach implies that these patients do not get treated with the same dignity or respect as patients who pay out of pocket, who, within this framework, are more likely to be white.