From Ovarian Cancer to Asbestos: Johnson & Johnson’s Campaign Against Black Women

Johnson & Johnson has been sued by women who claim the company knew some of its talcum powder contained asbestos, then actively concealed this information from the public, such as Black women who used the product for feminine hygiene. To avoid having to pay damages to the women who were exposed to asbestos through its product, Johnson & Johnson is now asking the courts to recognize its Baby Powder product as a separate company. This would be like an oil company trying to claim it wasn’t responsible for any deaths caused by the pollution caused by its refinery, even though there were clear warning signs before the explosion happened.

Corporations tend to distance themselves from any negative effects of their products, but Johnson & Johnson has gone to a new low.

Despite knowing about the dangers of its product, Johnson & Johnson continued to market Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower to Black women. Johnson & Johnson has a long history of discrimination against Black people. Johnson & Johnson was charged with conducting an illegal test on human subjects after experimenting with its products on hundreds of prisoners without their consent or knowledge that they were being used as guinea pigs.

The allegations that Johnson & Johnson covered up evidence of asbestos in its baby powder product should concern you whether or not you are a Black woman with ovarian cancer. The company sold its products despite knowing they were contaminated with tremolite asbestos. Women are now suing for damages related to mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. No one — especially women of color — should have to go through something like this.

Even though Johnson & Johnson continuously touts how it is committed to improving the health of Black women, including its long-standing partnership with Essence magazine, they have profited from harming black women. In order to conceal its deliberate deception, Johnson & Johnson has portrayed itself as a champion of women’s health while failing to protect us from asbestos.

Moreover, Johnson & Johnson should fund research for ovarian cancer treatments, engage in corporate accountability training, and make progress toward healing. Ultimately, Johnson & Johnson’s motion should be denied by the Department of Justice and the courts, which should rule that the company, its lawyers, media relations staff, marketing team, and executives work together as one entity. They all knew what was in these products and how they were marketed-and they hid it from doctors, patients, and their families. The responsibility must fall on all of them. Johnson & Johnson also needs to remove all of its baby powder products from store shelves immediately. This is yet another way that companies take advantage of BIPOC communities, especially Black women.

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