Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
I beseech you, before reading my blog post please watch the video above for it tells the story of Vertus Hardiman a black man whose name means “virtue.” I know many of you are wondering, “Who is this Vertus Hardiman that he would have a documentary about his life.” And, I say to you that he is a black man of great spiritual strength who for 80 years of his life kept a painful secret about the dangers of radiation and racism. You see, when Vertus was five-years old, he and several other black children from Lyles Station Elementary in Indiana were deceived by the local county hospital to take part in radiation experiments. Vertus’ parents as well as the other black parents were told that their children were going to be part of study that helped to cure wing worm scalp infections. However, what they ended up being a part of is the testing of radiation on the human body and mind.
I tell you, after watching the clip above my soul wept. I know the gruesome history of how black bodies have been used unknowingly for countless experiments to develop “modern science.” All one has to do is to think back to the Black men of Tuskegee and the experimentation with syphilis. All one has to do is to think back to how Ms. Henrietta’s cells were taken without her permission and who’s “immortal” cells live today in countless research projects globally. All one has to do is to look back at how Saartjie Baartman’s body was used to develop medical procedures and how recently her genitalia was released in 2001 from the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. All one has to do is to look back to see how modern science became so “modern.”
However, what made Vertus’ story more real for me is his deep spiritual desire to tell it after 80 years of silence and 80 years of hiding the hole in his scalp with wigs and hats. Vertus wanted to share his story so that others would know the truth. And, it is something about his truth that sears my heart. Just watching the short clip above a part of me deep within wanted to close its eyes and cover its ears from seeing how evil the world could be. But, then another part of me said, “If he can bear the telling of his story than I can bear witness to his story,” even though it sears me.
So, for the last week I have been trying to figure out why it sears me so and why so many of my Facebook friends responded to the video with the same type of feeling and vowing that they could not bear to see the entire documentary. And, the only thing I could surmise was that rarely do we encounter such direct truth in this world. Everything around us forces us not to see the truth. Our elected officials tell us that they care about all Americans when only they care about corporate interest. Reality TV is supposed to show the truth of reality, but it is nothing but a fabrication of reality. We are told we are going to war to help the people when only we want is their oil. Religious leaders tell us we are damned to hell if we allow women to preach and teach even though by design women are teachers and healers. Our childhood traumas tell us we are a doomed to live in fear for the rest of our lives even though we have the power within ourselves to rewrite those oppressive inner scripts. Yes, everything around us and everything in us forces us to look away when we see truth brightly shinning before us.
So, today, I hope to honor Vertus’ story because there is something profoundly spiritual about the telling of his story that shakes my very being to the core and I have not even seen the entire documentary only the short clip above. I tell you, I cannot imagine how my soul would feel to see the entire documentary, but, I would bare it because of Vertus’ courage to tell it. I started my blog recounting one of the eight beatitudes from the Bible—blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. And, all I can think of is how pure of heart Vertus was to share his story of truth with the world before he left it in 2007.
Vertus said, “No, if you are angry than your heart is not right. It was God’s grace that kept me here. I think he wanted it to be told.To show the magnitude of his mercy. Because it should be told”
So, please, watch the video above, visit the website, share it on your Facebook’s profiles, email it to your friends, and find a way to support the distribution of this film because it is such a powerful story about truth.