Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty

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Vintage, 1999 - Social Science - 373 pages
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This is a no-holds-barred response to the liberal and conservative retreat from an assertive, activist, and socially transformative civil rights agenda of recent years--using a black feminist lens and the issue of the impact of recent legislation, social policy, and welfare "reform" on black women's--especially poor black women's--control over their bodies' autonomy and their freedom to bear and raise children with respect and dignity in a society whose white mainstream is determined to demonize, even criminalize their lives. It gives its readers a cogent legal and historical argument for a radically new , and socially transformative, definition of "liberty" and "equality" for the American polity from a black feminist perspective.

The author is able to combine the most innovative and radical thinking on several fronts--racial theory, feminist, and legal--to produce a work that is at once history and political treatise. By using the history of how American law--beginning with slavery--has treated the issue of the state's right to interfere with the black woman's body, the author explosively and effectively makes the case for the legal redress to the racist implications of current policy with regards to 1) access to and coercive dispensing of birth control to poor black women 2) the criminalization of parenting by poor black women who have used drugs 3) the stigmatization and devaluation of poor black mothers under the new welfare provisions, and 4) the differential access to and disproportionate spending of social resources on the new reproductive technologies used by wealthy white couples to insure genetically related offspring.

The legal redress of the racism inherent in current American law and policy in these matters, the author argues in her last chapter, demands and should lead us to adopt a new standard and definition of the liberal theory of "liberty" and "equality" based on the need for, and the positive role of government in fostering, social as well as individual justice.
 

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KILLING THE BLACK BODY: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Roberts's exploration of the history of African-American women and reproductive rights is brilliant, controversial, and profoundly valuable. The author, a professor of law (Rutgers Univ.), brings ... Read full review

Killing the black body: race, reproduction, and the meaning of liberty

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Rutgers law professor Roberts examines "the history of social policies used by the dominant power structure to control black women's reproductive freedom." (LJ 9/1/97) Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
REPRODUCTION IN BONDAGE
22
THE DARKSIDE OF BIRTH CONTROL
56
FROM NORPLANT TO THE CONTRACEPTIVE WACCINE
104
MAKING REPRODUCTION ACRIME
150
Who Pays for ProCreation?
202
RACE AND THE NEW REPRODUCTION
246
Notes
313
Index
360
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Dorothy Roberts is the George A. Weiss University Professorof Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of three books of nonfiction, Killing the Black Body, Shattered Bonds, and Fatal Invention, and has coedited six works on constitutional law and gender. She lives in Philadelphia.

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