By Shawn C.

In the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”. There was a certain doctor who treated these prisoners like crap. He injected them with cancerous liquids. In Africa they where treated like crap also. They got things taken from them. They got attacked a lot and they are also not in good health. A lot of them died from malaria since they didn’t have a cure for it.

The doctor could of told the prisoners that they had cancer in the needle that they injected them with. But they didn’t they still injected them anyway. They took things from Africa and didn’t tell them(Doc C). They basically did whatever they wanted to because they can.

What leads people or countries to colonize other people or colonies? If a country tries to colonize another one. That country may want to be in control. They want to expand the country so they have more power over other countries. They would be the “top country”. They will overpower all of the other countries. If a person wants to colonize another person. They would have to take over anything that person stands for.

To what extent are the examples of medical practices in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks similar to European Imperialism in Africa? In Africa they gave you medicine not knowing what it was and just hoped for the best (Background Essay). Also in Africa everybody thought they were okay. In the book they also told Henrietta how she was okay and told her that they found nothing wrong with her (Page 60). The doctor in the book also stole cells from patients . Just like in Africa how Europeans stole from Africans.


Imperialism Through the Ages

By Trenton W.

The main time of the colonialism of Africa was between 1860 and 1920. Imperialism is a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force, in the case of Africa it was all through militaristic might. The driving force of European Imperialism in Africa was nationalism which manifested itself as competition between European nations, cultural superiority known as the white man’s burden and a desire to increase a nation’s resources through trade. This desire to further a goal through taking from Africans is a stark comparison for how the scientists at Johns’ Hopkins stole Henrietta Lacks’ cells by tricking her in order to further their own medical research instead of actually caring for her.

Nationalism in European countries was one of the leading causes of imperialism Africa you could say the doctors of Johns’ Hopkins had a similar feelings towards their work viewing it to be more important than another human beings life, just because that human is a black woman.

The white man’s burden could also be used as an example for the doctors viewing their work on Henrietta as a burden because she is black and she isn’t even worth their time if she did not have her unique immortal cells.

Many people would Argue that white Europeans are a cancer itself on Africa like the cancer that manifested in Henrietta’s cervix, and like a cancer the white Europeans took resources from Africa and slowly hurt the continent as if it was a living being. I personally like to symbolize Henrietta as Africa, strong and independent as she was and Johns’ Hopkins and it’s doctors as Europe and its colonizers how they had the potential to help but instead damaged Africa/Henrietta in pursuit of their own selfish desires.

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A political cartoon named “Gold Diggers” by Polyp.org.uk which displays Africa as drained of resources to benefit Europe and North America.


By Darrian S.

Imperialism is the same as invasion of someone’s privacy. The story of Henrietta Lacks is similar to imperialism because the connection between the European imperialism in Africa and the Henrietta lacks story is that both African and Henrietta were both being used by high authority. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Henrietta Lacks, was an African- American raised by her grandfather with a lot of her cousins. , who got her cells taken from her illegally without her knowing. They named it “HeLa cells’ because they had no reason why the cells couldn’t die. The cells worth billions of dollars and also save lots of lives at that time.

The definition of imperialism is the practice of a larger country or government growing stronger by taking over poorer or weaker countries that have important resources.

Doctors took her cells without asking.” The inside flap continues, “Henrietta’s family did not learn of her ‘immortality’ until more than 20 years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. Cells removed from her body-without her family’s permission. At the same time Gey found that her tumor cells were actually dividing and growing in his laboratory, a first for science. He began sending samples around the world and ordered his 21-year-old assistant, Mary Kubicek, to take more cells from Henrietta while her body lay in the hospital’s autopsy room.

When European took over and colonizes Africa, it become like it’s there because no one can tell them what to do. They are in charge of everything they colonized.

European imperialism in Africa connects to the Henrietta lacks situation because European countries colonized Africa. The reason for that was Africa had some of the things European countries wanted so that why they decided to colonize the Africa. Africa’s development makes it easier for European countries to control part of it because European can do what they feel like and there’s no one to tell them anything. And the problem with Henrietta lacks case was the doctors just take the cells without her knowing because it was an independent ward which she didn’t know what the doctors were doing. All she was worried about is to get better and hoping for the doctor to not stop her from having kids.


By Marcus L.

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks and European Imperialism can relate to each other in many ways.  The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks is a book made to give light to a much unknown person and to show how important she is. European imperialism is a thing when Europe wanted to imperialize Africa for various reasons. Both of these concepts could be related in a way where they are not that different.

Imperialism and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are very similar in the fact how they both rely on the Manipulation on colored people. Both the doctors and European colonizers wanted something from colored people. The doctors wanted the cells from Henrietta lacks and the colonizers wanted the African tribes land. The Doctors manipulated Henrietta Lacks to believe she was safe being in the hospital but they were just using her as a study toy for her immortal cells. The doctors were just trying to take her RESOURCES which were her immortal cells. The European Colonizers were people trying to take land from African tribes, some took it by force while other barged in and out right killed them. When the European colonizers asked for the land, they promised them good things, however after some time some of the chiefs realized that nothing good was coming to them and they just basically took their land for free. Both Henrietta Lacks and the African Tribe people couldn’t do anything about this because they basically had no power in this situation. Henrietta Lacks attempted to not go to the hospital because she didn’t want them to take away her organs that allowed her to make babies. The African Tribes could do something by fighting back but it would have been a lost cause because The Europeans were much more advanced than them and I believed they knew that too. Both of them were simply helpless even if they knew what was going on or not.

Connection between Imperialism in Africa and Imperialism in the Medical Field

By Danielle P.

Social darwinism is the evolutionary process that everything evolved from something to fit their environment.

Imperialism in Africa was caused by Social Darwinism. A line from the poem “The White Man’s Burden” by Rudyard Kipling says, “Take up the white man’s burden, send forth the best ye breed, go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives needs… Take up the white man’s burden, The savage wars of peace, fill full the mouth of famine, and bid the sickness cease.” (Doc F). This stanza refers to how European countries believed they needed to go into Africa and take over because in the long run they were making it better. It’s saying that the United States should also go in and take over the philippines since they obviously need the help. Kipling was a white privilege english man that help a lot of power. His background  shines a light on how he thinks and why he thinks that way. He believes that what is happening is  right and for the greater good same as most white higher up people during this time.   

In the medical field Blacks were basically the testing tools. They were being tested on for everything from syphilis to lead without their consent. In the 1930’s us public health services researchers  decided to test to see how syphilis kills. So they recruited hundreds of african american men with syphilis to watch them die slowly and painful deaths that could have been prevented. The blacks were uneducated and the researchers offered them things the needed such as free physical exams, hot meals, rides into town for the clinic and fifty dollars for the burial fees. They choose black people to experiment on because at the time they were thought to be a notoriously syphilis race. Doctors withheld fundamental information from their patients sometimes not even given them a diagnosis saying it was best not to confuse or frighten the patient with words that they probably wouldn’t even understand like cancer. Because of the fact that black people didn’t question white people’s judgement. Most were just glad that they were getting treatment. John Hopkins researchers started a research in  the late nineties on lead poison. The research was apart a study examining lead abatement methods and all the families that were involved were black. They had tested homes for high lead levels then encouraged the homeowners to rent the homes to black families with children so that they can monitor the children’s lead levels.  They did investigate and found out that the consent forms “failed to provide an adequate description.” of the different level of lead in the homes.

It was believed that although all humans evolved from monkeys people of color wasn’t as evolved so they were basically monkeys. That mindset made it easier to take over africa and enslave africans. When they decided to run test that could and would harm people researchers torned to black people to experiment on. Social Darwinism made it easier to experiment on people because they already didn’t see them as fully evolved people so to them we were just another animal to experiment on for the greater good.  

Lacks Vs. Europeans

By Jade Y.

Countries colonize other less fortunate countries for free labor, resources, and money. Like when Europe colonized Africa because Europeans saw an opportunity for new resources and trade routes back in 1870s.

Europeans stole the Africans land and resources without asking, that’s imperialism. But imperialism in 1870s is not different from imperialism in 1951 for “Africans.” For example Henrietta Lacks, the African-American woman that was a science/cancer experiment for doctors. This woman was used for cancer research for doctors without her consent. “ so when TeLinde offered him a supply of cervical cancer tissue in exchange for trying to grow some cells, Dr.Gey didn’t hesitate. And TeLinde Began collecting samples from ANY woman who happened to walk in Hopkins with cervical cancer. Including Henrietta.”(pg 30). This institute was using black women to grow cancer cells. Does that sound familiar? The story of Henrietta Lacks and The history of The Europeans and Africans are related, they both involved Africans being used for their resources by people that think they’re gods.

How Imperialism Affected Henrietta Lacks

By Walter N.

Nationalism is a love for your country so intense that no one or no lace could compare to its greatness. Nationalism is a natural driving force for Imperialism, which is the conquering of other countries and colonies for the power and respect. Imperialism makes you blind to other cultures, and the ways of the people but your own. By culture it could mean music, art, or even a race. Henrietta Lacks was a victim to the influence of imperialism of others, because white people wanted to conquer the colored people for intimidation with gruesome intentions with them. In a metaphorical sense, the whites wanted to imperialize the colored people to have them under their own power.

As Britain colonized Africa they would take resources and not care about the native people.Their resources were of value to them such as copper, zinc, lead, gold, and especially diamonds. (doc.D) to take their resources it would have made it much easier for them to conquer the land at once from whom it originally belonged too, only if it were to of value of them. As in Henrietta Lacks, were just as ignorant with taking possessions as in times before. For example when Henrietta goes to the hospital for her diagnosis, the best doctors of Johns Hopkins were predominantly white with the same mindset of opportunist. They would take her immortal cells without her consent and her knowledge, which in comparison could be like the colonies of ancient times.

This idea of imperialism reaches even farther than Henrietta’s scenario. There was once an activity to whites called the “Tuskegee syphilis Act.”They would diagnose black people with the STD Syphilis to record the behavior of the disease and a cure to it. This Act is most gruesome related to imperialism because it shows that they did not care about colored people or how they would continue with their lives. Unless the whites benefit from it for themselves they didn’t care or wanted no part in what were to happen, selfish with it. Which in a proportional scale would be the same as Britain imperialized African countries.

So if you compare both they would be the same actions with the same intentions. The Britain empire wanted to oppress the African countries for everything they could get out of them. This mentality was passed through colonization and through generations, as the whites of America would do the same to oppress the colored people of America. Just how the white doctors and white researchers would do to Henrietta Lacks and more colored people of this time. Although all the attempts to put down, stop, or to oppress the colored people throughout the generations, we all stood strong being able to overcome it all and still spread the knowledge of ancestors who made history for us in our own lane.

Imperialism involved in Henrietta Lacks

By Lachell W.

What lead people to colonize other countries? Things like lack of resources. Imperialism is the desire to make your country better by taking over other countries. European Imperialism in Africa is similar to the medical practices in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks because Europeans and Henrietta were both getting something done to them that they had no idea or say in. Henrietta’s cells were being used and she had no idea because she couldn’t read so the scientists signed the forms without her consent. In Europe, they decided to take over different parts of Africa by deciding who takes which parts, and none of the others really have a say in what gets chosen.

Doctors and Europeans fall into the the name ‘Imperialist’ by not informing their patients, or the rest of their country about the things that are happening around them and not letting them have a say in any decisions being made.

The Immortal Life of the Imperial Mindset

By Julious M.

Europeans in the 1900’s colonized Africa because they felt the need to expand, Europe was a place known for competition The Countries within Europe competed for Africa’s land and resources. They were fighting over something that wasn’t theirs in the first place. In (Doc F) Lobengula Khumalo, chief of South African Ndebele asked “Did you ever see a chameleon catch a fly? The chameleon gets behind the fly and remains motionless for some time, then he advances very slowly and gently, at first, putting forward one leg and then another. At last when well within reach, he darts out his tongue and the fly disappears. England is the chameleon and I am that fly” This relates to Henrietta Lacks and how the doctors slowly but surely made sure they got their fly, which in this case is Henrietta’s cells. When a person wants something, they’ll do anything to get it and when people or countries colonize and take over, it is because of the desire of what the invader wants.

Henrietta Lacks was an African-American tobacco farmer. Henrietta moved to Baltimore and ad of tissue research later got ill. Henrietta was an independent woman and didn’t really depend on doctors because she usually used old home remedies. One day in day, Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to finally see what was wrong with her because she complained about a knot in her groin area. The doctors at first just brushed it off, gave her pain killers and said it was because she had bad blood. On September 19, 1950, was when the doctors finally

realized it was abnormal because the tumor was growing at an alarming rate. “The most famous vulture” or George Gey according to (p.30) of the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was the name for the head of tissue research at Johns Hopkins. George Gey and his wife Margaret spent three-decade trying and were determined to grow cells outside of the body, but most of the cells died off. When TeLinde offered Gey for a sample of the HeLa cells, he didn’t think twice about it.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The European Imperialism were alike because in both scenarios the person or the country that got invaded was had an African decent. Also in both scenarios, there were things taken without the knowledge of that person of in Africa’s case the people. That’s why when A country invades or a person gets stolen from it’s because of what they had.

Imperialism and Henrietta Lacks

By Joseph B.

“Between 1500 and 1800, European slavers and traders did not venture far from the African coast. During those 300 years it was all about buying local slaves from the chiefs and then getting out of West African waters with your crew and slave cargo alive” (Background Essay). In 1807, the British out-lawed the trans-Atlantic slave trade and in 1833 slavery itself. At this point the only British colony in Africa was the Cape Colony in southern Africa (Background Essay). The driving force behind European Imperialism were economic reasons, such as the desire to obtain resources and trading partners. However new technologies facilitated their colonial impulses.

One reason behind European Imperialism was the desire to obtain resources. Every place a European Colonizer invaded there was some type resource useful that they could take for themselves. The resources they found or came across ranged from copper/ metals being able to make cutting tools, electric wiring, metal alloys, and more. Too rubber and ivory to be able to make soaps/ candles, some food products, tires, and more (Doc D). “The European leaders were becoming very aware of two things: First, Africa was filled with incredible natural resources; Second, a scramble for these riches could lead to war among the European powers” (Background Essay).

Another reason behind European Imperialism was the desire to obtain trading partners. In 1854 imports from Africa were at about 4 million in British pounds and exports to Africa were at about 2.5 million in British pounds. But than by 1900 both of those numbers shot up drastically, the imports from Africa shot to about 8 million in British pounds and the exports from Africa went up too 21 million in British pounds, HUGE jump (Doc E). “In the area of economics, I will allow myself to place before you, with the support of some figures. The point of view of that need, felt more and more strongly by the industrial populations of Europe and particularly those of our won rich and hard working country: the need for export markets” (Jules Ferry’s Speech).

Although economic factors drove Imperialism, new technologies was what actually drove them to be able to actually take over. In 1837 the first “Electrical telegraph” was created and helped so that people could communicate over long distances.  In 1884 the first “Maxim gun” was created and it was the first machine gun. This in fact helped give them more fire power to win battles or wars against anyone they needed. And finally the “Repeating rifle” was created in the late 1800’s to give them even more fire power to win wars, also it was faster-loading and able to fire more shots more accurately than older muskets (Doc C).

The driving force behind European Imperialism were economic reasons, such as the desire to obtain resources and trading partners. however new technologies facilitated their colonial impulses. I believe I’m right because all the resources that Africa had to offer, they weren’t using them and they got invaded to put it to good use.

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In my opinion the things that lead people to invade other people or countries was the resources around them and/or the land their on. The resources they found or came across ranged from copper/ metals being able to make cutting tools, electric wiring, metal alloys, and more. Too rubber and ivory to be able to make soaps/ candles, some food products, tires, and more (Doc D).

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is similar to European imperialism  in Africa because people get “screwed over.” The people in Africa were ran out of their country or killed in their country because of resources around them, and a lot of other countries wanted those resources. This caused war in Africa and from the result of that, many people had died.  Than in “Henrietta Lacks” a study was done with only black families which depending on their landlord they would contaminate each home with different levels of lead paint. The most expensive home would have the least amount of lead paint in it, and the least expensive house would have the most lead paint in it. In both of these “cases” the people in the homes were never informed of the lead paint and the people in Africa weren’t aware of the invasion until it was too late.