Harriet A. Washington

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Harriet Washington
Washington at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Washington at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Born (1951-10-05) October 5, 1951 (age 71)[1]
Fort Dix, New Jersey, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Rochester (B.A.)
Columbia University (M.A.)
Notable worksMedical Apartheid
Ron DeBose
(m. 1992; died 2013)

Harriet A. Washington is an American writer and medical ethicist. She is the author of the book Medical Apartheid, which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.[2] She has also written books on environmental racism and the erosion of informed consent in medicine.

Washington has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University.[3]


Washington was Health and Science editor of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. In 1990, she was awarded the New Horizons Traveling Fellowship by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.[4] She subsequently worked as a Page One editor at USA Today newspaper, before winning a fellowship from the Harvard School of Public Health.[5] In 1997, she won a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University, and in 2002 was named a research fellow in medical ethics at Harvard Medical School.[6]

In 2007, Washington's third book, Medical Apartheid won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.[2] The book has been described as "the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans."[7]

In 2019, she published A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind, which explores how poor people of color disproportionately suffer from environmental disasters and exposure to environmental toxins, including lead, arsenic, mercury, and DDT.[8][9][10] Exposure to these chemicals impairs brain development and can lead to lower IQ.

Washington was a visiting scholar at the DePaul University College of Law and is now a Bennett Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute of the University of Las Vegas at Nevada.[11]

Washington has been interviewed by NPR[12] and Democracy Now!.[13]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Living Healthy with Hepatitis C: Natural and Conventional Approaches to Recover your Quality of Life. New York: Dell. 2000. ISBN 978-0-440-23608-5.
  • Washington, Harriet A. (July 2002). "Burning Love: Big Tobacco Takes Aim at LGBT Youths". American Journal of Public Health. 92 (7): 1086–1095. doi:10.2105/ajph.92.7.1086. PMC 3222279. PMID 12084686.
  • Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Doubleday. 2006. ISBN 978-0-385-50993-0.
  • Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself--And the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future. New York: Random House. 2011. ISBN 978-0-385-52892-4.
  • Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How we "Catch" Mental Illness. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2015. ISBN 978-0-316-27780-8.
  • A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and its Assault on the American Mind. Little, Brown Spark. 2019. ISBN 978-0-316-50943-5.
  • Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Medical Consent. New York: Columbia Global Reports. 2021. ISBN 978-17-344-20722.

Personal life[edit]

Washington was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey.[1] She graduated from the University of Rochester in 1976 with a B.A. in English literature and later completed an M.A. in journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[5][1][14]

Washington lives in Manhattan.[5] She was married to Ron DeBose from 1992 until his death in 2013.[15][1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Washington, Harriet A." Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  2. ^ a b "National Book Critics Circle: NBCC Award Winners 2007". Critical Mass Blog. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  3. ^ Medical Apartheid
  4. ^ "New Horizons Traveling Fellowship Recipients". Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  5. ^ a b c "Rochester Review". University of Rochester. Summer 2005. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  6. ^ "Harriet A. Washington (Keynote)". The Center for Translational and Basic Research. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  7. ^ "Summary and reviews of Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington". BookBrowse. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  8. ^ Begley, Sarah (2020-07-07). "Health Care Is Racist. Here's What Needs to Change". Medium. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  9. ^ "Book: 'A Terrible Thing To Waste'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  10. ^ "Harriet A. Washington's A Terrible Thing to Waste Injects a Dose of Hard Truth Into the Conversation About Black Lives". The Root. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  11. ^ "Harriet A. Washington". HuffPost. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  12. ^ "The Ethics Of Coronavirus Vaccine Trials In Developing Countries". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  13. ^ "Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  14. ^ "Harriet Washington | Penguin Random House".
  15. ^ "Ronnie DeBose Obituary (2013) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle".

External links[edit]