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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Despite Its Shocking Ties to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Guatemalan Syphilis Experiments, Johns Hopkins Failed to Back Chief Diversity Officer Who Was Chastised for Writing About "White Privilege"

Updated: Mar 12

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on March 8, 2024; Updated on March 10 and 12, 2024

IMAGE: Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.H.S., Johns Hopkins Medicine.

An Editorial Opinion


Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.H.S., is the Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Vice President at Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) in Baltimore, Maryland.  Until Tuesday, Dr. Golden was also JHM's Chief Diversity Officer.


Dr. Golden specializes in Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Diabetes Mellitus, Endocrinology, and Lipid Disorders. She is an internationally recognized physician-scientist and member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Association of American Physicians, and the American Society of Clinical Investigation.


According to JHM’s website, Dr. Golden has research interests in Diabetes and Depression; Diabetes Epidemiology; Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease; Inpatient Diabetes Healthcare Delivery; and Health Disparities and Health Equity. She is also the author of more than 200 articles focused on diabetes, endocrinology, and health disparities.


Dr. Golden is a summa cum laude college graduate and a Phi Beta Kappa member.


On Tuesday, Dr. Golden stepped down from her job as Chief Diversity Officer. Dr. Golden had been under fire for remarks she made in the January edition of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s “Diversity Digest” in which she acknowledged and described the existence of “White Privilege.” Her exact statement appears below:

Under pressure from JHM’s top executives, Dr. Golden retracted the language she used in her discussion of “White Privilege” and apologized. Here is her retraction and apology:

Additionally, JHM’s leadership team renounced Dr. Golden's "White Privilege" language, saying her definition of “White Privilege” ran counter to its values and commitment to serving everyone equally. 


Conservative Congressman Andy Harris (R-Maryland) called Dr. Golden’s comments a “racist memo” and demanded that she be fired. Harris is a Johns Hopkins-educated physician who supported the January 6th insurrection.

One of Dr. Golden's loudest critics was billionaire Elon Musk, a South African immigrant who wallowed in "White Privilege" for the first 18 years of his life. Musk is a direct beneficiary of South Africa's racial apartheid system, which only ended in 1994. Musk's family in South Africa became wealthy by using the apartheid system to rip-off Black South Africans.

After a “great deal of reflection,” Dr. Golden stepped down as Chief Diversity Officer on Tuesday. She will remain at JHM as a faculty member and diabetes researcher .


Setting the Record Straight About JHM in an Anti-Woke Society


JHM’s quick and harsh condemnation of Dr. Golden’s remarks on “White Privilege” was shocking, considering JHM's somewhat complicated place in the history in American medicine. I’m not talking about glorious accomplishments JHM has made in ethical medical research.


I’m talking about the shocking, inhumane, and unspeakable acts that placed JHM in the midst of unethical, non-therapeutic, government-sponsored medical experiments on 1,931 people of color in Tuskegee, Alabama and Guatemala without their knowledge or consent.


The U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and state of Alabama medical professionals conducted non-therapeutic medical experiments on 623 poor, rural, uneducated, black men in Tuskegee, Alabama from 1932 to 1972 in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. 

During the Study, penicillin was deliberately withheld from the syphilitic participants so that researchers could study the effects of untreated syphilis on these men all of the way to their deaths.  Penicillin was then, and is now, the drug that is commonly used to treat syphilis.

IMAGE: Tuskegee Syphilis Study participants being deceived by white medical professionals into thinking they were getting treatment for syphilis.

Researchers told Tuskegee Syphilis Study participants they were being treated for syphilis when, in fact, they were not.


Johns Hopkins Medicine acknowledges the participation of its faculty members and researchers in the review of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study's research data, as well as the unpublished research data gathered from the Guatemala Syphilis Experiments from 1946 to 1954.

Additionally, J. Earle Moore, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and head of the Johns Hopkins Hospital's syphilis clinic, served as an advisor to the PHS on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Moore also chaired the 12-member PHS Syphilis Study Section.

JHM stresses that Moore and the other Syphilis Study Section members associated with its School of Public Health -- Dean Lowell J. Reed, Thomas B. Turner, and Harry Eagle -- served independently of their roles as Johns Hopkins University faculty members and researchers.


Historians and legal scholars, including Dr. Karen Kruse Thomas, PhD (the historian at JHM's Bloomberg School of Public Health), have linked JHM-affiliated faculty members, researchers, and alumni to human experiments in which vulnerable populations of Guatemalans were deceived and intentionally exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea and other venereal diseases and pathogens, without giving any informed consent, and denied treatment.


The Guatemalan experiments targeted 1,308 school children, orphans, psychiatric hospital patients, prison inmates and military conscripts, who were deliberately infected them with the venereal diseases involved in the experiments.  

IMAGE: A doctor examines a victim of the Guatemalan Syphilis Experiments.

Prominent Johns Hopkins-affiliated researcher and alumnus -- John C. Cutler -- actively participated in the Guatemalan Syphilis Experiments, as acknowledged by JHM on September 1, 2020.


"This seems like something right out of Dr. [Josef] Mengele's notebook," said Bradley Stoner, MD, past President of the American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association. Dr. Stoner compared the Guatemala Syphilis Experiments to the Nazi medical experiments inflicted upon Jews in Auschwitz during the World War II.


In 2010, the Obama Administration apologized to the Republic of Guatemala for the Guatemala Syphilis Experiments.  The victims of the experiments, however, were never compensated.

JHM blamed the federal government for conducting the unethical Guatemala experiments. JHM said it did not initiate, pay for, direct, or conduct the study in Guatemala.

In April 2022, a U.S. District Court judge let Johns Hopkins Medicine off the hook by granting a summary judgment in the institution's favor after finding that the Guatemalan plaintiffs who sued Johns Hopkins Medicine and others did not demonstrate that JHM, as an institution, was responsible for conducting the nonconsensual STD experiments in Guatemala.




Considering its shocking and embarrassing association with U.S. government-sponsored, non-consensual, non-therapeutic medical experiments on people of color in Tuskegee and Guatemala, John Hopkins Medicine should have been leading the defense of Dr. Sherita Hill Golden against those who seek to present a sanitized version of American history that pacifies today’s anti-woke movement.


Instead, JHM became a ring leader for the anti-woke crowd that attacked Dr. Golden. JHM turned on Dr. Golden because academic "truth" on racial matters outside of the narrow confines of scientific research is no longer viewed as a valuable "institutional asset."

Using dog-whistle language, Elon Musk labeled Dr. Golden's editorial comments on unearned privileges as a "hit list." Of course, Musk is a bona fide member of the "White Privilege" group who showers his 21st century apartheid views upon all who are receptive to them.

No one has disputed the truth and veracity of Dr. Golden's comments. Dr. Golden stated publicly what most American acknowledge privately as the truth. The people who railed against Dr. Golden's comments are, for the most part, privileged White men who are uncomfortable with a public airing of Dr. Golden's truisms.


I have NOT found any member of today's anti-woke movement, including Elon Musk and Andy Harris, who embraces the truth about what happened in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and/or the Guatemalan Syphilis Experiments. Hell, they won't even acknowledge the true cause of the American Civil War.


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May 16

As someone on diabetes medication, I'm grateful for the commitment of organizations like Johns Hopkins Medicine. Dr. Sherita Hill Golden's work in diabetes, health disparities, and cardiovascular disease is invaluable. Thank you for your dedication to advancing diabetes treatment and research.


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Mar 09

This JHM doctor would have stood up and fought for Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, were he still alive today. He's gone now, but I am here to stand up for her in his place.

Watkins men always stand up for what is right. We say the things that need to be said.


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Mar 08

As if the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Guatemalan Syphilis Experiments were not bad enough, prisons around the United States are now harvesting the organs of death row inmates and other prisoners who die in prison. The decedents are overwhelmingly inmates of color. The practice of organ harvesting occurs without the knowledge and consent of the deceased inmate's family.

As was the case with the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the state of Alabama is a leader in the unethical practice of organ harvesting. This is the primary reason why the state does not grant parole to its prisoners. When an inmate dies in prison, his/her body parts become a hot commodities in the organ harvesting industry.


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Mar 08

One of Dr. Golden's loudest critics was Elon Musk, a South African immigrant who wallowed in "White Privilege" for the first 18 years of his life. Musk is a direct beneficiary of South Africa's racial apartheid system, which only ended in 1994. Musk's family in South Africa became wealthy by using the apartheid system to rip-off Black South Africans.


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Mar 08

"White privilege" has existed in America, unabated, since 1619. It is protected by custom, tradition, and law. Anybody who does not accept this truism is living in an alternative universe. The anti-woke crowd does not want to eliminate "white privilege." They simply want to curb all public discussion about it.

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