Disposable Mothers, Deployable Children (Review Essay)

58 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2003

See all articles by Annette Ruth Appell

Annette Ruth Appell

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law


This essay reviews Randall Kennedy's Interracial Intimacies (2003), a book that explores African American-white interracial adult-adult relationships and African American- and Native American-white adult-child relationships. For Kennedy, such relationships reflect and promote racial liberty or justice. The paper praises the book for highlighting the arbitrariness and destructiveness of racial classifications, but criticizes it for cloaking in terms of racial liberty what is essentially a conservative narrative about race and poverty that limits socioeconomic and racial mobility. The essay explores how the book fails to take into account fallacies of race neutrality and important distinctions between youth and adults, private and public family law systems, men and women, and adoptive and birth families. The essay first outlines the content and structure of the book and then explores the larger contexts the book ignores. Paying particular attention to Kennedy's portrayal of transracial adoption, the paper shows how his depiction and promotion of such adoption fails to account for the needs and experiences of children, masks institutional racism in, and affecting, the child welfare system, and reflects a white supremacist, patriarchal social agenda that seeks to limit the ability of poor women of color to bear and raise children.

Keywords: race, gender, adoption, family

Suggested Citation

Appell, Annette Ruth, Disposable Mothers, Deployable Children (Review Essay). Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Vol. 9, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=480205 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.480205

Annette Ruth Appell (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-7912 (Phone)

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