Race has always governed the meaning of welfare in the United States. White Americans’ fears that blacks will benefit from public assistance have worked to make welfare in the United State both puny and punitive. Two chief systems within the US welfare state – public aid and child protection services – penalize black women for their role as mothers. This chapter examines public policies toward black women’s childbearing and care giving by the US welfare state in order to elucidate how race helps to maintain welfare’s punitive features in the United States.
Dorothy E. Roberts
In the last 50 years, feminists of color have developed an intersectional analysis of women’s subordination known as critical race feminism, which takes into account the multiple, interlocking systems of oppression that affect women’s lives and social status in ways typically overlooked by dominant feminist jurisprudence. They have also followed a long legacy of resistance against combined race- and gender-based oppression by proposing new intersectional frameworks for dismantling unjust hierarchies, systems and institutions. Critical race feminists have thereby transformed feminist legal theory, making it more relevant to the experiences of all women and better able to effectively challenge varying forms of women’s subordination. This chapter explores the development of critical race feminism and intersectionality and their continued importance in legal and social theories of inequality as well as in activist struggles.