things that matter

California Stopped Forcibly Sterilizing People Less Than 40 Years Ago And Now They Might Not Pass A Bill Offering Reparations

Film Independent / YouTube

California lawmakers are working to pass a bill that could potentially change the lives of the remaining survivors of state-sponsored forced sterilization. The bill, Senate Bill 1190 Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Program, would entitle victims of the former sterilization program to monetary compensation for the forced sterilizations they experienced under a California law from 1909 to 1979.

After 40 years since the practice ended, victims of California’s forced sterilization program might get monetary compensation.

CREDIT: Sugree / Flickr

Senate Bill 1190 Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Program would be “implemented by the California Victim Compensation Board for the purpose of providing victim compensation to any survivor of state-sponsored sterilization conducted pursuant to eugenics laws that existed in the State of California between 1909 and 1979,” according to the bill.

California’s eugenics law allowed for medical professionals to prevent certain people from reproducing if they were believed to be undesirable. According to The Washington Post, the practice of eugenics in the U.S. began in Indiana state prisons and spread to 32 states. The programs began by targeting people with mental illness, disabilities, or anyone showing abnormal behavior. The practice then morphed to include people of certain races and ethnicities. The practice was often referred to as ‘better breeding.’

Doctors sterilized many of the women without their consent or knowledge.

CREDIT: Film Independent / YouTube

California targeted low-income, immigrant Latinx families that couldn’t speak English in order to manipulate them into signing forms to approve sterilization procedures. When pregnant women arrived at hospitals to give birth via C-Section, the mothers would wake up and find out their tubes had been cut without their consent. The mothers were left feeling ashamed, often hiding what had happened from their family members.

A group of Mexican-American women brought a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California (LAC + USC) Medical Center in 1975 because of the sterilizations.

CREDIT: Film Independent / YouTube

In 1975, Dolores Madrigal and her attorney, Antonia Hernandez, took the LAC + USC Medical Center to federal court after Madrigal found out she was forcibly sterilized by doctors. Unfortunately, Madrigal wasn’t the only person to experience forced sterilization. More than 20,000 others had similar stories. Unfortunately, the court ruled that the charges weren’t true and left the women with no justice for what they had endured.

The documentary No Más Bebés chronicles the lives of these women, the case and the women who continued to be be sterilized without consent.

The law changed four years later in 1979 under the leadership of Gov. Jerry Brown. Gov. Gray Davis formally apologized for the eugenics law that devastated thousands of Californians.

SB 1190 has been placed on a appropriations suspension. According to the California League of Cities, “suspense file is a holding placing for bills with significant fiscal impacts. Bills are generally held on the suspense file before each fiscal deadline so that each House can evaluate the total impacts to the state. Bills which are moved out of suspense then go to the floor while bills held in suspense die.”

California would join other states in rectifying previous eugenics practices if the bill is passed.

CREDIT: Allen Allen / Flickr

North Carolina and Virginia passed similar legislation in 2013, setting aside $10 million and $25,000 for sterilization victims, respectively.

On April 30, 2018 the California bill was placed on the Appropriations Suspense file, or in other words, “where bills go to die.” There may be little chance of it passing this legislative session.


READ: A New Documentary Tells the Story of Latinas Who Were Sterilized Without Knowing It

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The Little-Known History Of Grace Wisher, The Black Teen Girl Who Helped Craft The American Flag

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The Little-Known History Of Grace Wisher, The Black Teen Girl Who Helped Craft The American Flag

Smithsonian

The United States was built on the forced labor of enslaved Africans. This isn’t hyperbole, either. The strenuous work of Africans who were violently shipped to the US laid the foundation of the country, from laboring on plantations — the mainstay of the early US economy — to building streets and railroads to literally constructing the White House and the US Capitol. Less known: a young Black girl is also behind our Star-Spangled Banner.

Grace Wisher, a 13-year-old indentured servant of Mary Pickersgill, a famed flag-maker credited with designing the US flag that inspired our national anthem, helped sew the original flag, Teen Vogue reports.

According to the news outlet, Wisher was a free girl in Baltimore, Maryland who became a servant after her mother, Jenny, signed a contract with Pickersgill in 1810.

The contract details that Wisher was expected “to learn the art and mystery of housework and plain sewing,” abilities her mother believed would better prepare her for life.

“It seems as though Jenny wanted Grace to be able to learn a trade, especially as a free African-American girl,” Amanda Shores Davis, the executive director of the Star-Spangled Flag House in Baltimore, told Teen Vogue. “It would have been important for her to learn skills that could carry her through the rest of her life.”

Information on Wisher is hard to come by. Not only were the early stories of African Americans intentionally left out of history, as an indentured servant, not a slave, Wisher’s name was not mentioned in Pickersgill’s title for the house or her belongings, like the flag-maker’s enslaved servants were, Sally Johnston, former executive director of the Flag House and a Mary Pickersgill biographer, says.

In recent years, historians have been working to ensure that the young Black girl’s role in the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner is no longer erased. In 2014, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore started to include the little information they had about Wisher in their exhibitions. Currently, an outline of a young girl representing Wisher sits on a plexiglass covering a popular oil painting depicting the creation of the flag. Additionally, in 2014, an exhibition titled For Whom It Stands and housed at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, which documents Maryland’s African American history and culture, included Wisher’s story.

“A name like Grace Wisher, unless you’re deep into the story about the Star-Spangled Banner itself, doesn’t often come to the fore,” Wilkinson tells Teen Vogue. “That’s why I think it’s important that there’s not a single narrative. There are things we think we know, but there’s more we need to know. And certainly, Grace Wisher’s life and her contributions should not go unknown. It should be acknowledged and presented in our historical displays about this era.”

Wilkinson, who is now a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMHAAC), believes spreading this hidden history could allow African Americans and other Black Americans to see themselves, perhaps for the first time, as part of the American dream.

“The flag and the anthem are not the same thing. But because they’re related in terms of these symbols of American identity, these are places where people are invested,” she said. “And African-Americans are as invested as any other American and understand the potency of these symbols to call attention to issues that they want to see change in.”

Read: These Surprising Facts Will Explain Why Latinos Ought To Celebrate Juneteenth

California Man Shoots Baby Of Woman Who Rejected Him In The Head

Things That Matter

California Man Shoots Baby Of Woman Who Rejected Him In The Head

Fresno Police Department

With the various cases of murdered Latina teens flooding news headlines in recent months, there’s no doubt our country has a crisis on its hands. Violence against women remains a prominent issue in the United States. Often times, particularly in today’s political climate where immigrants and Latinos are a target, Latinas often find themselves wrapped up in attacks unleashed by violent partners and bureaucratic red tape.

The latest story of one such incident includes a particularly violent headline from over the weekend.

On Saturday, a man allegedly shot a 10-month-old baby in the head after the child’s mom rejected him at a party in Fresno, Calif.

According to the Fresno Police Department, Marcos Antonio Echartea, 23, fanatically followed Deziree Menagh, 18, at a party. 

The two had met a week prior, and when he saw her at the gathering, he hounded her every move. Echartea turned down the man’s advances, resisting him when he tried to force her on his lap and leaving the party early to get away from him.

“It was very apparent that he wanted a relationship with her,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Sunday, according to BuzzFeed News.

Menagh left the party with her daughter in the car of a male friend. As the three of them drove off, they stopped while making a U-turn about a block away, when Echartea appeared walking toward them. Near the car, the man reportedly fired three shots into the driver’s side window. The blasts hit Fayth in the side of her head as she sat on her mother’s lap in the passenger seat.

“We have every reason to believe that Marcus knew that baby Fayth was in that vehicle when he fired three rounds into that vehicle,” Dyer said.

The driver rushed to the hospital and called the police. On the phone, a dispatcher informed him there were officers nearby who could care for the baby as they waited for an ambulance.

The baby remains in the hospital, where she is in critical condition after doctors pulled bullet fragments from her head.

“We are hoping and praying that baby Fayth is able to survive this injury, as well as make a full recovery,” Dyer said. “I know the parents are broken. They’re hurting.”

Echartea, who was arrested at his house and charged with three counts of attempted murder, is also a suspect in a similar child shooting “over a female.” On the night of May 27, the man visited the home of his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend and fired his gun numerous times inside. During his attack, he almost hit a one-year-old baby. 

“It’s very apparent that Marcos Echartea has no regard for human life, even a baby,” Dyer said.

The man is currently facing additional felony counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, related to the previous shooting as well.

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