Race and Reproduction: A Review of Killing the Black Body
Control of reproductive decisions of black women is a highly prevalent a form of racial oppression in America. Due to this form of control, the meaning of reproductive liberty in America has been significantly altered. These issues are addressed in Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body. The novel demonstrates the way in which black women were consistently devalued as a tool for reproductive means, which in itself was a form of racial oppression. The novel also provides the reader with insight as to how experiences of black women since times of slavery have drastically changed the present day connotation of reproductive freedom. Robert argues that throughout American history, the reproductive capacity of black women has been used against them constantly as a means of racial oppression, control, and devaluation. Since the times of slavery, the institution of black motherhood has been minimized and disgraced. For instance, black women were forced to become pregnant. They faced the threat of sterilization through coercion. Black women were vigorously implanted with Norplant, denied welfare because of their procreation, and were imprisoned due to reproductive choices. Their children were taken away and sold to different slave-owners. During the times of slavery, black women were sexually exploited for reproductive reasons and in order to oppress and humiliate the black community. Roberts discusses in Killing the Black Body: After Emancipation, the Ku Klux Klan's terror included the rape of Black women, as well as the more commonly cited lynching of Black men. White sexual violence attacked not only freed Black men's masculinity by challenging their ability to protect Black women; it also invaded freed Black women's dominion over their own bodies (pg. 31). This form of sexual exploitation of black women by white men intimated...
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