- From the Editor
The contents of this issue represent our efforts toward increasing and broadening the scope of research on women, gender, and families of color. Topics not only address the important effects of race and gender in women’s social realities but probe the deep interconnections between age, ability, religion, reproduction, immigration, education, and political agency. Authors demonstrate the fruitful efforts of multidisciplinary, intersectional work that this journal seeks to promote. While the articles in this issue are diverse, they highlight key policies and events that changed the social landscape and American conceptions of race and gender across the second half of the twentieth century. From mid-century miscegenation laws to the post–9/11 security state, these authors demonstrate that understandings of race, ethnicity, and gender are not stable or concrete categories but are contested and evolving across time and space.
In “‘A Darker Hue’: Race and Adoption in Richmond, Virginia, 1959,” which focuses on mid-century adoption policies in the U.S. South, Sarah L. Trembanis historicizes the long history of policing the reproductive and family lives of people of color. In this piece, the author focuses on government policies that prohibited interracial adoptions in the twentieth century through the remarkable story of one black woman’s struggle to adopt her lighter-skinned nephew. Trembanis highlights the political sites of contestation created in the opposing racial ideologies offered by state policies, adoption workers, and families.
Carly Hayden Foster’s article, “Anchor Babies and Welfare Queens: An Essay on Political Rhetoric, Gendered Racism, and Marginalization,” shows how the policing of families of color evolved in the early 1980s political [End Page 1] construction of the welfare queen. In politicians’ strategic laments of black single mothers “taking advantage” of American taxpayers, Foster connects the discourses of the welfare queen to more contemporary notions of Latina immigrant mothers and anchor babies. Foster shows how each of these tropes relies on assumptions of racialized, gendered deviancy that further marginalize women and families of color and inhibit them from receiving the material or social resources they need. Dorothy Hines-Datiri’s work shows how racial and gendered stereotypes have a continued effect on the retention of young black and Latina women in U.S. high schools. In “‘Cloaked in Invisibility’: Dropout-Recovery Narratives of Girls of Color after Re-enrollment,” she explores how young women of color understand and respond to how others perceive their struggles, such as adolescent pregnancy, and the meaning this may have for their continued education.
While each of these pieces shows the historically embedded roots of race and gender in the United States, Sabrina Alimahomed-Wilson’s work, “An ‘Invisible’ Pattern of Violence: White American Masculinity and the Hidden Assault on U.S. Muslim Women,” calls attention to the ways racial formations are changing in the 21st century. Her work on post–9/11 Islamophobia draws much-needed attention to the daily violence experienced by U.S. Muslim women. In her research, the author found that an astounding 85 percent of the women she interviewed reported verbal assaults or threats within public spaces; a quarter of the women reported harrowing experiences with physical violence. Yet this violence has been disregarded by authorities, ignored in news outlets, and underrepresented in scholarship. Instead, these women’s stories are eclipsed by the same racist, sexist, xenophobic practices of policy makers, law enforcement, and citizen surveillance campaigns that Alimahomed-Wilson connects to post–9/11 militarism and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Each of these pieces seeks to uncover historical and present violence affecting the lives of women, gender, and families of color. Reaching out to other scholarship with similar values, we review two titles, Becoming Legal: Immigration Law and Mixed-Status Families, by Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, and LaGuana Gray’s We Just Keep Running the Line: Black Southern Women and the Poultry Processing Industry. These titles precipitate our building of a regular book review section as part of the journal, and we welcome readers to submit. [End Page 2]