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Eugenics.  A tiny little word with an amazingly complex meaning, eugenics was once held as the science of "better breeding," and the mechanism for birthing a better, more fit society.  Utilizing theories of evolution, polygenesis, phrenology, and genetic inheritance, eugenic beliefs filtered into every aspect of Western culture.  Today, remnants of eugenics inform and dictate policies in education, housing, health, punishment, finance, amusements, immigration, and race.  The Acumen Group deconstructs these theories to raise awareness of eugenics -- past and present and help others address both personal and institutional bias based on eugenic ideologies.   


It has been fifty years since Hollywood hit a home run with the release of the film “Claudine.” Starring legendary actors Diahann Carroll (“Dynasty,” “Carmen Jones,” “Eve’s Bayou”) and James Earl Jones (“Great White Hope,” “Star Wars,” “Coming to America”), the feature production became the template for Black romantic comedies by placing two would-be lovers against a headwind of opposition including past relationships, Claudine’s six children, and the welfare caseworkers. Many Acumen audiences are familiar with Dr. Shantella Sherman's use of the film Claudine as an entry point to understanding the eugenic framing of welfare policies that worked along a premise of promiscuous and feebleminded women reproducing children that would become burdens on the state through their mental and emotional deficits, criminal and violent behaviors, and their degenerate influence on otherwise civilized Americans.  In this way, Claudine was less about the relationship between Claudine and Rupert, and more about the potential dangers of dysgenic unions on the rest of society. 




The Acumen Group honored the writers, directors, producers, and actors of the British soap opera Coronation Street in October 2023 for their research-worthy performances.  Using the strength of their talents, our examination of potentially eugenic themes on the show yielded both a bounty of data and a book award for Popular Eugenics in Television & Film.  Here are the presentations of our awards at ITV Studios in Manchester (UK), to Alison King (for her portrayal of Carla Barlow), Chris Gascoyne (for his portrayal of Peter Barlow), and William Roache, (for his portrayal of Ken Barlow).  An additional Acumen award was accepted by actor Simon Gregson, who portrays Steve McDonald, (on behalf of the writers, directors, and producers).  King and Gascoyne provided Acumen with valuable insight into their characters -- who wrestled with the residue of childhood traumas and adult addictions while forging a formidable (sometimes volatile) romantic relationship with each other. Affectionately known as #Carter, Carla and Peter Barlow afforded researchers amazing test subjects of eugenically unfit (but purely lovable) characters who beat the odds and cultivated an almost surreal, passionate, and productive union. 


Photos and video footage -- even our bloopers -- by Alison Sinclair for ITV Coronation Street on behalf of The Acumen Group. / All rights reserved.  Copyright 2023  

A Celebration of Acumen Endeavors 2023

Meet the Acumen Team


Acumen Courses & Lectures 


Winner of 2023-2024 Best Academic Book - International Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society


Popular Eugenics in Television & Film 

In Search of Purity: 

Popular Eugenics & Racial Uplift Among New Negroes 1915-1935


Winner of the 2019-2020 Best Academic History Book Award from the International Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society


Available for purchase in our online bookstore or at book retailers worldwide 


"If you do not understand eugenics in the framing of race policies, what you believe you know of racism, Otherness, and national character, will only confuse you." 

-- Dr. Shantella Sherman 

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Winner of 2019-2020 Best Academic Book - International Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society

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