This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Second International Eugenics Congress—one of a series that took place between the years of 1912 and 1932 where global leaders in academia, policy, and medicine came together to advance their view of humanity. At this time, eugenics was a new branch of scientific inquiry that advanced the notion that some human groups are superior to others and that, ultimately, the inferior groups ought to be eliminated from the population through various means. It was at this second gathering—held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City—that a political program centered around “eliminating the unfit” and encouraging reproduction only amongst particular populations was articulated on the global stage and operationalized in policy. Eugenics would be leveraged to give a host of oppressive policies like anti-miscegenation and forced sterilization laws a veneer of scientific legitimacy. In connection with these events, a number of parallel practices surrounding immigration and even intelligence testing gained increasing currency, leaving an enduring mark on a wide variety of peoples and societies around the world.
Kobi Johnsson knows the importance of a name. That’s why he felt he needed to take action when he learned his middle school’s namesake was an influential leader in the Eugenics movement. He and his father, Lars, set out on a three-year journey to change David Starr Jordan Middle School to something more inclusive.
Topics: Eugenics/Race Science
In an interview with Facing History and Ourselves, sociologist Claude Steele explained that “stereotypes are one way in which history affects present life.” Stereotypes about race are among the most common. The challenge many of us face is that there are few opportunities to talk about the impact of stereotypes, where they come from, and how to break them down. Schools can provide opportunities for these important discussions, yet teachers too often lack both resources and professional development to help them navigate what can be difficult terrain.