“Arm in Arm: Gender, Eugenics, and Virginia’s Racial Integrity Acts of the 1920s”

“A small group of lobbyists who supported, along with eugenics, traditional principles of family and government, promoted Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 as part of a wave of legislation that sought to control marginalized populations”(1)

Lisa Lindquist Dorr writes about the eugenics movement in the 1920s, which is forced sterilization, sometimes unknown to the person it is being performed on.  The government has long since been controlling the family life of everyone, exhibited in“An Act Defining the Status of Mulatto Bastards,” and now that white woman have been taking a stand (although they are still very much regulated but minorities are much more controlled) the government went as far as eugenics to prevent the non white women from reproducing and furthering the racial differences.  While white woman at this time are advancing with the right to vote,  being encouraged to have babies, and facing freedoms given like the classic portrayal of a “flapper” dancing, drinking, and smoking.  “The women of color continued to face racial discrimination and segregation” (2) and are literally having their ability to their natural right stolen away from them.  In fact, while the white woman are making strides they pose no opposition to the complete oppression of minority groups, “there was no public opposition to the ideas of eugenics, even from radicals and feminists” (3)

This contrasts greatly with the “An act of Defining the Mulatto Bastard”, in terms of economic incentives for child rearing. Before the minority woman were needed for the reproduction of children, especially with the Atlantic Slave Trade being shut down in 1808, but now that these people are not economically value to white people, their right to have children is seen as a nuisance and something unnatural which can legally be stripped away.

The eugenics movement was a movement set in place to control minorities, because they were viewed as different than the white community, just like the Native Americans, and how they were forced to assimilate to the white culture in Zitkala-Sa, excerpts from “The School Days of an Indian Girl,” 1900.


  1.  Lisa Lindquist Dorr, “Arm in Arm: Gender, Eugenics, and Virginia’s Racial Integrity Acts of the 1920s” Journal of Women’s History 11 (1999): 143-166.
  2. Berkin, Carol , ed. “Women in Twentieth- Century America.” Clio in the Classroom. Ed. Margaret Crocco and Barbara Winslow. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 53. Print.

  3. Berkin, Carol , ed. “Women in Twentieth- Century America.” Clio in the Classroom. Ed. Margaret Crocco and Barbara Winslow. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 61. Print.
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One thought on ““Arm in Arm: Gender, Eugenics, and Virginia’s Racial Integrity Acts of the 1920s”

  1. Pingback: The Intersectionality of Oppression Introduction | The Intersectionality of Oppression

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