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.
U.S. Supreme Court Jugde Roger B Taney, in describing Africans as a sub-species in the Dred Scott (1857) case, invoked early eugenic theories of moral, social, and genetic infeiority. #EugeniallySpeaking, this ruling helped shaped U.S. Jim Crow laws, defacto segregation, and race-based policies still in existence today.
"[Africans] had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, which no one thought of disputing, or supposed to be open to dispute; and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern; without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion."
The Acumen Group works to inform you of eugenics and hereditarian thought in history, pop culture & everyday life
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
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
Winner of 2019-2020 Best Academic Book - International Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society