Eugenics and White Supremacy, Breeding out the Blacks

Monday 22nd August 6.30pm

Lecture on the link between eugenics and the control of Black women’s bodies. Dr Sherman is the author of ‘In Search of Purity’.

In our 107th Queen Nzingha lecture, Dr. Shantella Sherman will explore the science of eugenics and its relation to current theories about Black women’s bodies, including their character, aptitude, morality, and social fitness. We will also link to fashion, beauty and media and Roe vs Wade.

While eugenics has been officially set aside as a pseudo-science, its popular legacy, which includes colourism, body politics, and marriageability, continue to inform how Black women and girls are viewed nearly 150 years later. Few people understand how pervasive eugenics is, or how it has been integrated into popular films and television series for decades.

From the lament of turn-of-the-century scholars like Robert Shufeldt who proclaimed the Black woman “naturally immoral, immodest, and primed for carnal intercourse before reaching puberty,” to the purity myths documented by present-day researchers that render Black women genetically incapable of being proper wives, mothers, and citizens — Black women have become the standard-bearers of dysgenicism.

Eugenics positioned Black women as natural breeders of poverty, crime, mental and intellectual weakness, and national impurity. This lecture uncovers the roots of Black dysgenicism within biological theories of savage inheritance, criminality, sexual deviance, and disease that now saturate American popular culture in news broadcasts, film, music, and television. Eugenics, the “science of better breeding,” has dictated the sexual and social practices of Americans for more than 100 years — it affects social constructs and preferences that grew out of eugenic laws that centre around race hygiene, including skin complexion and hair texture preferences, grooming, and overall deportment.

This is an online lecture via Zoom. Link will be supplied via registration.

About the Nzingha lecture series: Queen Nzinga was an African Queen who fought against the European invasion of southern Africa (Congo/Angola). The Queen Nzinga lecture series feature African female academics / holders of expert knowledge, speaking on topics of their choice. The Nzinga lecture series provide a regular platform for women of African descent to highlight important issues in an academic setting.

Other coming events from www.blackhistorywalks.co.uk :

  • African Women Resistance Leaders: Political and Spiritual (online course)
  • Black History River Cruise
  • Black history bus tour
  • African Superheroes Day @phoenixcinema
  • Harlem in Mayfair Black history walk
  • Walter Rodney a new perspective
  • Andromeda, Queen of Sheba and Black women in European art
  • Special screening of Marikana massacre at BFI Southbank
  • Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s, Hackney, Soho, Notting Hill
  • Pilots of the Caribbean and the Tuskeegee airmen
  • How to rip off Black historians a tale of copying and greed in London
  • Kenya’s racist history a Black judge speaks

About the Speaker: Dr Shantella Sherman

Dr. Shantella Sherman ​is an historian and journalist whose work documents African American history, popular culture, Women & Gender studies, Black British culture, and the American Eugenics movement. Dr. Sherman is the publisher of Acumen Magazine and a former editor with The Washington Informer and Philadelphia Tribune newspapers. Dr. Sherman is a graduate of The University of Nebraska – Lincoln and Jackson State University. She is the author of In search of Purity: Popular Eugenics and racial uplift amongst negroes 1915-1935 which is available online.

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Reviews of Black History Walks, Tours & Talks

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Extremely informative and made it seem all really relevant

I just wanted to let you know that the students REALLY enjoyed the tour yesterday. I polled them in class and everyone overwhelmingly had positive things to say. They particularly enjoyed how you incorporated modern day information into the tour. They said it was extremely informative and made it seem all really relevant. And today it was great listening to them as they walked around central London, noticing some of the things you'd pointed out. So, your work was very well received. Well done and thank you!

Lori Tharps, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Journalism, Temple University, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T12:12:20+01:00

Lori Tharps, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Journalism, Temple University, USA

I just wanted to let you know that the students REALLY enjoyed the tour yesterday. I polled them in class and everyone overwhelmingly had positive things to say. They particularly enjoyed how you incorporated modern day information into the tour. They said it was extremely informative and made it seem all really relevant. And today it was great listening to them as they walked around central London, noticing some of the things you'd pointed out. So, your work was very well received. Well done and thank you!

Best element of the trip

You may hear this often, but many of my students named your tour as the best element of the trip last time.

Nancy Comerau, Assistant Professor of English, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T12:28:53+01:00

Nancy Comerau, Assistant Professor of English, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

You may hear this often, but many of my students named your tour as the best element of the trip last time.

Absolutely brilliant lecture and walk yesterday

Absolutely brilliant lecture and walk yesterday. Students were really energized. Thanks so much.

Bill Mullen, Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:27:53+01:00

Bill Mullen, Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University, USA

Absolutely brilliant lecture and walk yesterday. Students were really energized. Thanks so much.

A rich and detailed learning experience

Our guide's encyclopedic knowledge of the area, and his passion for black history, made for a rich and detailed learning experience. He was friendly and engaging, frequently involving the students in dialogue and relating his points to places and subjects that are familiar to them. The students were fascinated throughout and learned a great deal. We recommend this tour most highly!

Rebecca Whisnant, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Dayton, USA

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:28:21+01:00

Rebecca Whisnant, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Dayton, USA

Our guide's encyclopedic knowledge of the area, and his passion for black history, made for a rich and detailed learning experience. He was friendly and engaging, frequently involving the students in dialogue and relating his points to places and subjects that are familiar to them. The students were fascinated throughout and learned a great deal. We recommend this tour most highly!

The children talk about it for a long time afterwards

I would really like to book two black history walk dates around St Pauls and the Barbican for our two year 6 classes. We have done them for the last two years and the children always learn such a lot and talk about it for a long time afterwards.

Helen Davies, Head of Year 6, John Scurr School, Tower Hamlets

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:29:08+01:00

Helen Davies, Head of Year 6, John Scurr School, Tower Hamlets

I would really like to book two black history walk dates around St Pauls and the Barbican for our two year 6 classes. We have done them for the last two years and the children always learn such a lot and talk about it for a long time afterwards.

I could not have asked for a better supplement to my Sociology course on race, identity, and culture

Thank you for organizing a wonderful walking tour for my students. You are incredibly knowledgeable, and it was such a joy to hear your take on things. The students loved this field trip. You did an excellent job relating the history, culture, and social contributions of Black and Afro-Caribbean people in a fun and lively way while still emphasizing the seriousness and importance of this often overlooked aspect of British life. I could not have asked for a better supplement to my Sociology course on race, identity, and culture. I really appreciate you helping make the class so special and look forward to arranging another.

William Force, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Western New England University

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:31:05+01:00

William Force, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Western New England University

Thank you for organizing a wonderful walking tour for my students. You are incredibly knowledgeable, and it was such a joy to hear your take on things. The students loved this field trip. You did an excellent job relating the history, culture, and social contributions of Black and Afro-Caribbean people in a fun and lively way while still emphasizing the seriousness and importance of this often overlooked aspect of British life. I could not have asked for a better supplement to my Sociology course on race, identity, and culture. I really appreciate you helping make the class so special and look forward to arranging another.

Engaging, moving, will keep you asking more questions.

What an amazing tour! It completely moved me to rethink the intricate web of social, economic and political relations that characterize British imperial rule and racial politics. Engaging, moving, will keep you asking more questions. The best way to get to know London.

Alai Reyes-Santos, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T13:32:29+01:00

Alai Reyes-Santos, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon

What an amazing tour! It completely moved me to rethink the intricate web of social, economic and political relations that characterize British imperial rule and racial politics. Engaging, moving, will keep you asking more questions. The best way to get to know London.

Nothing but positive feedback

The audience and the panellists had some incredibly positive feedback about your presentation. It went down so well and was an brilliant combination of information, revelation and humour. There were also a number of attendees whose firms or companies had organised a Black History Walk with yourself and also had nothing but positive feedback

Sharon Takhar, Origin Network, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

Black History Walks
5
2020-08-19T16:34:16+01:00

Sharon Takhar, Origin Network, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

The audience and the panellists had some incredibly positive feedback about your presentation. It went down so well and was an brilliant combination of information, revelation and humour. There were also a number of attendees whose firms or companies had organised a Black History Walk with yourself and also had nothing but positive feedback

It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it for all

A brisk, informative stroll through the heart of the British Empire. Our cheerful and intellectually generous tour guide, led us through narrow alleyways and past Roman ruins, within halls constructed by powerful guilds; in the process, he revealed to us both the many layers of British history and the often unacknowledged cultural multiplicity at its core. The tour was exciting, informative and allowed everyone across age, interest, and temperament to participate and learn. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it for all.

Professor Caroline Brown, University of Montreal, Canada

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T11:38:44+01:00

Professor Caroline Brown, University of Montreal, Canada

A brisk, informative stroll through the heart of the British Empire. Our cheerful and intellectually generous tour guide, led us through narrow alleyways and past Roman ruins, within halls constructed by powerful guilds; in the process, he revealed to us both the many layers of British history and the often unacknowledged cultural multiplicity at its core. The tour was exciting, informative and allowed everyone across age, interest, and temperament to participate and learn. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it for all.

A truly inspiring day

A truly inspiring day, filled with information I may have NEVER been aware of, if it was not for attending this walk. The friendly intellectually amazing tour guide relayed facts that I would have had to research for months to be aware of. I would URGE any and everyone, of all ages to attend - a great, fun, educational day out.

Isschara Maxine, London

Black History Walks
5
2020-07-15T11:44:18+01:00

Isschara Maxine, London

A truly inspiring day, filled with information I may have NEVER been aware of, if it was not for attending this walk. The friendly intellectually amazing tour guide relayed facts that I would have had to research for months to be aware of. I would URGE any and everyone, of all ages to attend - a great, fun, educational day out.
5
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Black History Walks
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