The Sterilisation of Black Women without Consent and how to stop it

Sunday 19 September 6.30pm
After our ‘Belly of the Beast’ screening, a presentation/Q&A with Dr Shantella Sherman on modern eugenics, human rights and resistance. This event is organised by Black History Walks in conjunction with the Sarah Parker Remond Centre at U.C.L.

The link to view Belly of the Beast will be sent to those who register for this talk. Viewers will have 5 days to watch it online before the talk and Q&A. The talk itself will expand upon the issues raised in the film and allow for Q&A on the issues raised. View trailer below.

Erika Cohn’s documentary “Belly of the Beast,”, is at once a thrilling legal drama and heart-breaking depiction of devastating human rights violations that you can’t imagine happening in the 21st century. Unfortunately, as news recently broke about alleged forced sterilizations performed in ICE detention centres, the film is also all too timely, and a powerful argument for women’s reproductive autonomy.

At the heart of the story is Kelli Dillon, a Los Angeles-based domestic violence counsellor and gang interventionist, who was the victim of non-consensual sterilization while serving time in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Kelli, who killed her abusive husband in self-defence and in defence of her children, knew she would not be present for her sons’ childhood while imprisoned, and she hoped to meet someone and have more kids upon release. During a surgery to have ovarian cysts removed, prison doctors performed a hysterectomy without her consent. Upon experiencing symptoms of surgical menopause, and realizing that other women in prison were having similar procedures, Kelli wrote to the Oakland-based prison abolition organization Justice Now for help.

Enter Cynthia Chandler, a Philly punk rock kid-turned-lawyer. Upon reading Dillon’s medical documents, Cynthia is the one to inform Kelli exactly what happened to her on that operating table, and together, they take their mission to stop the practice and seek justice for the other women all the way to the top.

“If you don’t understand eugenics, you’re missing three-quarters of the mainframe to public policy and legal platforms; these are laws and regulations that dictate how we live and how well we live. But so long as the conversation is strictly surface, those most in peril and vulnerable to eugenic legislation never gain an opportunity to advocate on their own behalves.” Dr Shantella Sherman

In her talk Dr Sherman will cover:

  • International comparisons
  • Fibroids and hysterectomy
  • UK examples
  • Sexual assault as a tool to suppress US Civil Rights
  • How white rapists used the law to force their Black victims to have abortions
  • Ways of resistance, examples of success

This is an online event the relevant link will be sent to the email you register with please check your JUNK mail.

About the speakers:

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 can be found online.

Coming Soon: Other online and physical events from

  • African Women Resistance Leaders: Political and Spiritual course Part 1
  • Top 20 Banned Black films you must see
  • Black Success Stories in London
  • 1958 Remembering the ‘riots’. Black armed resistance in Notting Hill
  • Kenyan Uprisings, through the Leopard’s Gaze
  • The economic impact of African hair, local and global
  • 19th century superheroine Sarah Parker Remond
  • A British Black Panther speaks
  • Earl Cameron Season
  • Black history bus tour and river cruise
  • Black British Civil Rights and Darcus Howe day
  • Elephant and Castle Black History Walk
  • Hackney Black History Walk

Look out for our new book Black History Walks in London Volume 1 from Jacaranda Books

About the Sarah Parker Remond Centre at UCL

The University College London Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation explores the impact of racism – scientific, metaphysical and cultural. Part of the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, they work closely with many partners on-site to provide a focal point for scholarship, teaching and public engagement activities that are addressed to various problems of racial inequality and hierarchy

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