During the colonial era, women were responsible for breeding the next generation of workers. For Schiebinger, European women were supposed to breed manpower to fuel military strength and industrial growth, while black women were to breed hands to harvest sugarcane and coffee beans (QUOTE). In colonial Spain and Latin America, these notions held true but women were also responsible for the religious purity of the next generation. Following the Reconquista and expulsion of the Moors from Spain, an obsession with religious purity became the measuring tool for social status. The purity of your blood had a direct correlation on your ability to be a Christian. Since a racially mixed person had ambiguous origins, there was no way to tell if they were a “pure” Christian. In the New World, the conversion of indigenous peoples could never truly be trusted because of their racial markings. Religious attitudes were seen as something that was passed on from mothers to their offspring. It would be helpful to look at the stigmas of racial mixing as it pertains to religious purity to better understand the overall racial hierarchy of the colonial era.
While Douglas examines the relationship between black faith and black sexuality, there is not much discussion about the mixing of white and black faiths. She argues that the unity between divinity and humanity is revealed through the human body/flesh of Jesus Christ. The message of this union allowed the human body to be seen as a instrument for divine presence rather than a vessel for evil. Images of Jesus in American culture are predominately white with very anglo body features – a legacy of the westernization of Christianity. Just as Douglas argues that blacks internalize cultural ideas of their sexuality, perhaps there is a racial internalization of images of Jesus as well. Also, Douglas argues that human sexuality is the way men and women enter into relationships with others. Even though sexuality expresses God’s desire that we find our humanness in relationship, how do our relationships affect future generations? More specifically, do we still judge parents’ ability to raise a child racially?
I would argue yes. As we read in Hartouni’s essay, media still stereotypes black mothers as “welfare queens.” In Johnson v. Calvert, the public was forced to confront whether a white couple or black mother would be a better parental figures. Regardless of the facts, the issue quickly became racialized. The Calverts were portrayed as a white couple with adequate resources to care for a child while Johnson was portrayed as a black woman seeking to scam the system. I think we can still find vestiges of the purity of blood from the 15th century in this case. If a mother appears to scamming the welfare system, then the child of that mother will have the same stereotypes placed on the him. There is still a strong association between race and socio-economic standing. This is where some of the outrageous comments about sterilization and birth control stem from that we talked about in class Monday. The relationship between parents and offspring still needs to be addressed.