Cross-posted at Family Inequality.
It’s been a big week for stories of families denied and disrupted by the state. Family denial came up in the form of bodily intervention (as in North Carolina’s eugenics program), border control (as when Jose Antonio Vargas‘s mother put him on a one-way plane for the U.S.), parents’ incarceration, or legal denial of family rights (the refusal to recognize gay marriage, or what I suggest we call homogamous marriage).
(1) North Carolina’s eugenics program was the subject of hearings this week, dragging on with no compensation for the 7,600 people who were involuntarily sterilized between 1929 and 1977. A collection of literature at the State Library of North Carolina includes this 1950 propaganda pamphlet:
(2) Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, recounted his life as an undocumented immigrant. His mother put him on a plane for the U.S. with false papers, maybe never to see him again.
(3) While a judge declared the federal law against recognizing gay marriage unconstitutional, the New York legislature maybe moved toward legal recognition, and President Obama’s support of gay marriage apparently stalled.
(4) The 40th anniversary of the drug war was a bleak reminder of the millions of U.S. families separated by incarceration during that time.
The text says, “more women and mothers are behind bars than at any time in U.S. history,” from (www.usprisonculture.com).
(My graph from data in an article by Wildeman and Western in The Future of Children)Philip N. Cohen is a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and writes the blog Family Inequality. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
Village Idiot — June 30, 2011
Funny how there's no comments here, but plenty of hand-wringing, accusations, recitation of pointless anecdotes about childhood apparel choices (whether made by or for the children in question) and assorted snarky drama over at the post asking the rhetorical question that borders on absolute irrelevancy of whether FDR was gay because here's a picture of him in a dress. (it was up to 42 comments when I began writing this one).
I'm sure the folks commenting on the other post think it's very relevant indeed (or they wouldn't be spending their precious time writing the comments) but it seems to me more like an example of inspired narcissism that reaches nearly solipsistic proportions. After all, here we are at a post about familial issues that in all probability had a far, FAR greater impact on the lives of the children involved than what they were wearing, yet there's nothing but silence down here in the comment section while in the very next post there are lots of otherwise intelligent people who somehow think anyone gives a damn about their childhood, their feelings, or their sexual habits. Well, admittedly some people do care quite a bit about other people's sexual habits but they're even more screwed up than the rest of us (god help 'em!).
I guess most of the commentators around here weren't shipped off to a strange country by their mother, or forcibly sterilized, or spent their own childhood or their childrens' formative years incarcerated for some victimless bullshit "crime" as is so common nowadays, or had much to deal with at all relative to what many children endured and (continue to endure). It smacks of fiddling away the day while Rome continues to burn down around us, and I'm an optimist.
I'm not sure what profound insight is lurking in this odd discrepancy, but I'm sure there is one and I suspect that it's not that pretty at all (no matter what it's wearing).
Nicholas Gibson — July 19, 2011
'Idiot: great points of discussion. I would venture a guess about the relative seriousness of the post being the discretionary factor in sheer volume of comments. The notion that denying marriage rights to GLBTI couples is in fact 'government involvement in private, familial affairs' I think is tough to stomach for most normal folks. Not that most normal folks are nasty, uncaring a**holes, but just that most normal folks aren't open about their sexualities, sexual needs and wants, or true dreams about what they want their lives to look like, and because of this, don't openly face the realities of horrific hate speech and legal oppression by far-right and even fairly left peeps in gubmint or national news organizations.
Also, 'profound insight' may be a strong phrase; I too am an optimist, but in furthering what I see and how I see it, I'm getting to be...a bit more realistic about the time frame of our social consciousness changing to be more loving, caring, accepting, and strong. For example, many people think they came from 'normal', 'heterosexual', 'nuclear-ish' families, when in reality I would guess, given all the different places the stats come from, somewhere from 5 to 20-25 percent of people on this planet are probably more gay than straight, if we work from a bi-modal sexuality preference. And since most people think in terms of 'us' and 'them', this in itself lends the conversation to be started from a (probably) very different place than what we might find if folks were comfortable telling the truth.
Xenophobia and incarceration rates, while at first glance we might consider them two separate issues, I think end up being one in the same, when we take into account the white supremacist values the United States was founded upon and are still in place today. We aren't trained to think that 'True Americans' look like Frederick Douglass (read his July 4th 1852 speech...a work of art), Simon Montoya-Smith, Van Jones, Maria Theresa Kumar, Rinku Sen, or Martin Luther King Jr. (no matter how often nasty talking heads try to steal his words and his intentions for themselves). The separation of folks who are racial, sexual and gender minorities from the image we tend to conjure when we think of 'what an American looks like' is no accident, and it happens, countless times every day, of every week, in every year. And that is how we, collectively, can dismiss the realities of starvation and poverty, murder, hatred, legal apartheid, interference in family cohesion, interference in sexual freedom (in the land of freedom no less), and call it all: good ol' American life. Isn't it the folks who are calling for the 'majority' to rule on the issues of sexual education or abortion, American History (for goodness' sake) and health care, the same folks who, when things aren't going their way, argue that America stood for the voice of the few?
This is my guess as to why there are...well, now one (1) comment under this post, and soon to be two (2).
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