Killing the Black Body - Summary

1273 words 6 pages
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,
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Or did the state prosecute because Jane's master was denied the profit that he would have someday earned from the sale or exploitation of Angeline? (pg. 49).
This illustrates that white men devalued black women by not only using them as a source of reproductive means but also by dehumanizing their black children as the courts convicted these mothers in order to protect whites’ financial stake in the children, but not out of respect for the children themselves. Hence, black women were an economic resource for whites, utilized for sustaining slavery and significantly devalued as well as objectified. Salters (2013) states in her article a recent event where a doctor was accused of illegally videotaping and photographing over hundreds of patients – mostly women of color – during their medical procedures in John Hopkins’ East Baltimore Medical Center, which serves low-income African-American women. This scenario is an ultimate example of the continuation of a long history of dehumanization as well as objectification of Black women as their nude and vulnerable bodies were recorded without their consent.
Robert further argues for an idea of reproductive liberty that identifies race as an important reproductive rights issue. She states that the experiences of Black women since slavery has

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