Henrietta Lacks Structural Analysis Essay

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In order to fully understand the significance of the life of Henrietta Lacks, one must first understand the nature of the historical moment in which she lived, and died. Henrietta Lacks was a poor, African American woman born in 1920; Henrietta lived in Clover, Virginia, on a tobacco farm maintained by many generations of relatives. This historical moment can best be understood when evaluated using a structural analysis; a structural analysis is an examination of multiple components which form an organization; structural analyses often focus on the goals and purpose of the organization in question. Henrietta and her family were greatly affected by structural violence, a type of systematic violence exerted via legislation and discrimination. Often following systematic violence is a separate type of violence, known as symbolic violence; this occurs when structural violence is viewed as normal based on media representation or popular…show more content…
Although it may seem impossible that the human who spawned this cell line would go unrecognized, this was exactly the case with Henrietta Lacks. In fact, her name was purposely altered in many publications to Helen Lake, Helen Lane or some variation of the sort, in order to hide her identity. As crazy as it may seem, Even Henrietta 's ' own family were unaware that the cells were taken from her and were being used in labs across the globe. The purposeful alteration of the name Henrietta Lacks is a sort of symbolic violence; a symptom of the structural violence which led Henrietta to Johns Hopkins hospital in the first place. By altering her name, and referring to her cell line as "HeLa," the scientific community effectively reduced the memory and image of Henrietta to something less than human. Scientists began to think of HeLa as something which was only a cell line, not as cells which had once been attached to a human being, with a life of her
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