By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
(CNN) - Living people who were forcibly sterilized as part of a decades-long eugenics program in North Carolina should receive a one-time payment of $50,000, a state task force recommended on Tuesday.
North Carolina sterilized an estimated 7,600 people between 1929 and 1974, many of them against their will. The state apologized for the sterilizations in 2002, and Gov. Bev Perdue created the compensation task force last year. Many states once had eugenics programs, and seven have apologized, but North Carolina is the first to consider paying victims.
The five-member task force - including a doctor, lawyer, historian, retired judge and retired journalist – met for 10 months and has a February 1 deadline to send a report, including recommendations for compensation, to the governor.
The payments will need to be approved by North Carolina's legislature, and nobody is saying yet where money for victims would come from - some estimates put the number of living victims at 1,500. Task force spokeswoman Jill Lucas said Perdue will include the recommended payment in the budget she submits to the state legislature, which will take it up this spring. There is a three-year statute of limitations, so victims need to come forward soon.
The task force also recommends more aggressive outreach to identify victims, mental health services for living victims, the continuation and expansion of the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, which operates the task force, as well as the creation of permanent and traveling exhibits to educate the public about the state’s defunct eugenics program. The task force noted the need to ensure that the $50,000 payment won't result in victims losing eligibility for other benefits they might already be receiving.
Editor’s note: Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer and writer in New York City. She writes about social issues, parenting and relationships on her blog, Carolyn Edgar.
By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Whenever a person – usually, a black person – raises the issue of race, that person is frequently accused of “playing the race card.” The whole notion of race as a trump card that black people use to unfair advantage is puzzling enough. But one of the lingering dichotomies of American politics is that black people who raise the topic of race are often accused of making racial reprimands to their advantage, while whites who do the same thing, are not.
Take, for example, the racial rhetoric that has once again resurfaced among Republican presidential candidates. Just before the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum told a group in Iowa that he “didn’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Santorum later clarified – or rather, confused – his remarks by claiming he was misquoted, indicating he had said “blah” instead of “black.” Whether or not one finds Santorum’s explanation plausible, the “blah” people most often accused of by Republicans of living off of other people’s tax dollars are black and Hispanic.
Santorum may have backed off his remarks for fear of sounding openly prejudiced towards black people, but Newt Gingrich has no such compunction.
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