*The state of North Carolina added insult to injury when it recently decided not to compensate women who were victims of unwanted sterilizations. From 1929 – 1974, the state chose to play God and sterilize thousands of women against their will. The women were mostly black and brown, and were selected due to having what doctors described as “feeble minds,” making them allegedly unfit to be parents.
It would have cost just $10 million to pay the women back in $50,000 increments, which is about .05% of the state’s $20 billion dollar budget. But apparently, that amount was just too much.
By rejecting funding to compensate the victims of forced sterilization, the state is sending these four messages to the victims, their families and every black person in the country:
1) Your babies don’t mean very much to us
It’s hard to put a price on the loss of a child or the ability to bear children. But whatever that cost is, the state of North Carolina has deemed it to be less than $50,000. I’m not sure how much the legislators themselves would expect to receive in a lawsuit if their wives went to the doctor for simple procedures and came out unable to have kids. I’m sure they would ask for more than $50K
2) Your pain means nothing to us
The fact that most of the victims of this diabolical scheme were black and brown minimizes the ability of lawmakers to empathize with their pain. Some would say we’d be better off telling them that a pack of puppies were killed. The trauma experienced by these women and their families meant very little to the doctors who performed the procedures, and it means very little today.
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3) We really don’t want you people to have children anyway
When a black baby is born, especially a boy, someone builds a prison cell for that child to occupy. When a judge sentences a teenager to 15 life sentences for selling drugs, he does so because he believes that this child’s life is not worth redeeming. People don’t look at black babies and see a future doctor, lawyer or rocket scientist. Instead, they see a convict, welfare recipient or homicide victim. Therefore, it’s difficult for some lawmakers, especially in a notoriously racist state like North Carolina, to really feel that the world lost something when these black children were not allowed to exist.
4) The past is the past, and we’d rather forget about it
When it comes to atrocities committed against African Americans in the past, there is a reason that we are not well-educated about them. It’s because those in power are hopeful that they can escape accountability for these heinous actions by simply not telling anyone about them. But by choosing to walk away from education ourselves, we are assisting the descendants of our historical oppressors by helping them to erase our collective cultural memory, doing a huge disservice to our ancestors.
For every horrible action we know about from the past, there are probably ten stories that will never be told. The dirt of America’s history is as deep and disgusting as the computer hard drive of a serial child molester. By wiping our brains and the record books clean, states like North Carolina can avoid the outrage that would come from us if we were to know the truth. At that point, $50,000 would be a drop in the bucket.