some of us are brave

NC Senate Denies Victims of State’s Eugenic’s Program Justice

I was appalled, although not surprised, by the N.C. Eugenics story as it unfolded several years ago. Bodies considered property and cost centers are subject to violent abuses and subjugation by the state all the time. That’s how it goes.

However, it was hard for me to imagine a political body so immune to public ridicule and shame that it would deny these victims justice and compensation once the evidence was presented as it was convincingly done here.

But, I underestimated my home state of North Carolina. As reported in the NY Times:

Despite backing from Gov. Bev Perdue and the State House of Representatives, a compensation package that would have given victims up to $50,000 each was not included in the Senate’s budget.

Victims and supporters, who had hoped North Carolina would be the first of 32 states that practiced eugenics to pay victims, were angry.

“I am just overwhelmed that their mentality is still the same as the politicians who supported eugenics in the first place,” said Elaine Riddick, who was sterilized at 14 after having a baby fathered by a neighbor. “You have done messed up people for life, and this is what you do?”

The state said that Ms. Riddick was “feebleminded” and potentially promiscuous. So her grandmother, who was illiterate and who feared Ms. Riddick would be sent to an orphanage, signed the consent form with an X.

Particularly galling to me was Chris Carney, Republican Senator, reasoning for denying these women their just due:

“If we do something like this, you open up the door to other things the state did in its history,” Senator Chris Carney, a Republican, told The Mooresville Tribune. “And some, I’m sure you’d agree, are worse than this.”

Well, you know me. Off went an email from me to Mr. Carney who, for your consideration, can be contacted on twitter (@SenChrisCarney) and via email at


Mr. Carney’s website quotes him as saying:

“I believe it is the job of an elected official to be a strong advocate for our communities, our district, and our state. My greatest satisfaction comes from making a positive difference for the people I represent.”

I find it difficult to reconcile that belief with his recent disavowal of the N.C. Eugenics program. Mr. Carney is quoted as saying that:

“If we do something like this, you open up the door to other things the state did in its history,” Senator Chris Carney, a Republican, told The Mooresville Tribune. “And some, I’m sure you’d agree, are worse than this.”

Whose interests, exactly, does Mr. Carney represent if not the women of his state (and mine; I’m still a voting North Carolinian) who were brutally victimized by the state?

It seems his concern is one about reparations which is an ideological issue. The current issue is about righting a contemporary crime, not a historical one. How can he consider living victims vestiges of history?

For a party who represents the sanctity of life as promulgated through your position on healthcare for women, it is a particularly odd choice. The women in this story were denied their right to protect life against their will. What penalty would Mr. Carney propose for an individual offender who visited that attack on a woman? Why should the state be held to a lower standard?

Try as I might I find it hard to find any other justification for Mr. Carney’s position but that the victims are not “his kind” of women. They are primarily poor and women of color. So, perhaps, Mr. Carney should make it clear in his statements that he advocates for certain communities, not all? Truth in advertising as it were.

I hope Mr. Carney roots out his motivation for this blatant disregard for the health, welfare, and rights of the members of the state he represents. In so doing I hope he eventually does the right thing. Unless and until he does I plan to remind him as frequently as I can that the victims of the N.C. eugenics program are not history. They are living, breathing women who deserve representation and justice.




If you feel so inclined you can crib that as you wish.

Talk back...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on June 22, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
%d bloggers like this: