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Reproducing Race in an Era of Reckoning

By Dov Fox. Full Text.

What place should racial preferences have when people make a family? People might have all sorts of reasons for caring about race in their search for a romantic partner, sperm or egg donor, or child to foster or adopt. Maybe they think such resemblance will make it easier for them to bond with their kids, or easier for others to appreciate they are the parents. A growing school of legal scholars condemns racial matching in the buying and selling of reproductive materials specifically—on the ground that it shores up racial hierarchy and promotes eugenic logic. I see two problems with this argument against the role of race in fertility markets. First, reasonable people can disagree about when and why colorblindness is a social ideal worth aspiring to in matters of family formation. Racial matching might operate, for example, in ways that are more divisive, or less; that entrench white privilege, or preserve marginalized identity. My second concern has to do with how that claim targets people who reproduce using a donor, surrogate, or IVF—as if same-sex or infertile couples and single-parents-by-choice think about or act on racial considerations in distinctively pervasive or contested ways. Singling out those who turn to assisted procreation demeans their families and perpetuates their historic exclusion from these special kinds of intimate relationships.