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Texas Journal of Women & Law


race, motherhood, African Americans, women


I approach the question of race, motherhood, and gestational surrogacy, by looking at courts' opinions in the case of Johnson v. Calvert and the racialized institution of motherhood. In the next section, I discuss motherhood as a social institution. I contrast some of the radical feminist critiques of motherhood, which recognize motherhood as institutionalized and compulsory, with Black feminist criticism, which understands motherhood as a site of power for African-American women. In Section III, I discuss the current popular understanding of the cultural and legal dictates of institutionalized motherhood from a historical perspective, focusing on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries' cult of domesticity as a way of understanding the present social requirements of motherhood. In addition, I discuss the ways in which the ideology of racism alters the standards for judging Black women as mothers. In Section IV, I tackle the case of Johnson v. Calvert in greater detail and address the lack of recognition, by the dominant culture, of African-American women's ties to White children. Finally, in Section V, I conclude that the oppressive use of White power provides the answer to whether law can and will give legal recognition to the mothering relationships between Black women and the White children they mother.