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A Wicked Notion: Race and Sterilization

Although race has no biological basis or widely accepted formal definition, the concept of race has been used to enact practices and legislation that have negatively impacted certain groups of people.

Published onAug 04, 2023
A Wicked Notion: Race and Sterilization
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ABSTRACT

Although race has no biological basis or widely accepted formal definition, the concept of race has been used to enact practices and legislation that have negatively impacted certain groups of people. Scientific racism has been employed to support and justify beliefs in racism, racial inferiority, and racial superiority. Biological theories of race are linked to eugenics - the theory that qualities of the human population can be improved through genetics, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons with genetic defects or presumed inheritable undesirable traits. Although it is now considered scientifically erroneous and immoral, eugenics drove much of American social policy in the early twentieth century.

Carolyn P. Veale is an assistant director of the University Honors Program. She has worked for NC State for nearly 25 years in a variety of positions supporting student success. Veale has also taught various courses in the College of Education, honors seminars, and a freshman advancement seminar. Veale received a B.A. in political science, a B.A. in public relations, and an M.Ed. in adult education from NC State University. She is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership at East Carolina University. Veale's research areas of interest are racial identity development, social justice, and multicultural issues in educational and organizational settings.

A Wicked Notion: Race and Sterilization (Carolyn Veale)

This video was originally produced for an audience of entering first-year and transfer students at NC State University as a part of an interdisciplinary experience. It is available for noncommercial reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 4.0 License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

TRANSCRIPT

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

  • Read this press release from California Newsreel: Race - The Power of an Illusion.

  • Check out these books:

  • Watch these documentaries:

    • The Eugenics Crusade What's Wrong with Perfect?. The Eugenics Crusade tells the story of the eugenics movement and its long history in the United States, from its beginnings in the study of heredity, to its rise as a popular movement promising to uplift the human race through state-sponsored sterilization, to its influence on immigration laws designed to close our borders to groups deemed genetically inferior.

    • No Mas Bebes (No More Babies). No Más Bebés tells the story of a little-known but landmark fight for reproductive justice. During the 1970s, a group of Mexican immigrant women sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. 

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