North Carolina’s reparation for the dark past of American eugenics
North Carolina’s compensation to victims of forced sterilisation is a chance to illuminate a gruesome US tradition of racial ’science’
Edwin Black - 28 June 2011
Twenty-seven American states joined a decades-long pseudo-scientific crusade to create a white, blond, blue-eyed, biologically superior “master race”. Their misguided utopian quest was called eugenics. But only one state, North Carolina, is now readying a massive plan of financial reparations to its surviving victims. Just how much North Carolina should pay is now the subject of a historically wrenching debate.
Eugenics was a fraudulent social theory that a better society could be created by eliminating “undesirable” human blood lines and promoting the desirable types. Race science sprang to life in the socioeconomically convulsive first decade of the 20th century, during which Asians, Eastern Europeans, Mexicans, Native Americans, blacks and other ethnic groups and racial mixtures flowed into US cities, creating overcrowding and class conflict. The intellectual, academic, scientific and financial elite believed better men and women could be cultivated using the same techniques a farmer would employ to create a better herd of cattle or field of wheat – eliminate the bad stock and proliferate the good. They planned to eliminate all those who did not resemble themselves, 10% at a time – that is, as many as 14 million people, at a slice. Their eventual goal was to eliminate as much as 90% of the population from the reproductive future of the United States.