Catch Up On This

Henrietta Lacks’ descendants sue for compensation

A list of race and racism news you might have missed

Stephanie Siek
Momentum
Published in
5 min readOct 9, 2021

--

A photo taken through a microscope shows HeLa cells cultured from tissue taken from Henrietta Lacks. The cells appear on a black background. They are stained with additives that make them appear cyan blue with a purple center and red fringe on the edges.
A microscope photo of HeLa cells generated from the tissue of Henrietta Lacks

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

The above 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. quote is one of my mantras. It loops through my head whenever I feel especially pessimistic about the state of the world, and/or Black people’s place in it. And when I feel wronged by someone or something in my life, it pushes itself into my consciousness to remind me that I just have to keep going and keep fighting. After all, another great lesson of the Civil Rights Movement is that the moral universe ain’t gonna bend itself. And several of the items in this week’s race and racism news roundup feature evidence of King’s adage — a curve toward justice after the exertion of years of pressure. Others are indicators of how much further that arc has to bend.

I also have an announcement — Race/Racism is going on an indefinite hiatus to allow me to pursue more original writing. I am always grateful for the feedback that readers of this feature have given me, and I enjoyed this opportunity to offer up interesting and important stories about Blackness and anti-Blackness that people might otherwise have missed. But I miss being the one that writes the stories, and I hope I’ll have more time to do that going forward. Be sure to follow me on Medium to keep up! Thank you for all your comments, claps and follows!

‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ gets new chapter as her family sues for compensation

Descendants of Henrietta Lacks have filed a lawsuit against a biotechnology company it says profited from cells taken from Lacks in 1951, when she was a patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Back in the days before informed medical consent was required, samples taken from the cervical tumors that would kill Lacks were used to create the world’s first immortalized cell line, known as HeLa. That cellular material enabled the creation of the polio vaccine, genetic mapping and many other scientific discoveries. The family’s suit against Thermo Fisher Scientific asks that the company turn over profits from…

--

--

Stephanie Siek
Momentum

Stephanie Siek is a writer and editor who loves cats, cookie dough and aborted alliteration.