This week’s Member Pick is from a brand new publication, The New New South, which has just published a new ebook by Belle Boggs, who’s been featured on Longreads in the past for pieces including 2012’s “The Art of Waiting.” Her latest, “For the Public Good,” looks at forced sterilizations that occurred in the United States and the story of victims in North Carolina.
Last summer I met Willis Lynch, a man who was sterilized by the state of North Carolina more than 65 years earlier, when he was only 14 years old and living in an institution for delinquent children. Willis was one of 7,600 victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program, and one of the more outspoken and persistent advocates for compensation.
At the time I was struggling with my own inability to conceive, and the debate within my state—how much is the ability to have children worth?—was something I thought about a lot. It’s hard to quantify, the value of people who don’t exist. It gets even more complicated when you factor in public discomfort over a shameful past, and a present-day political climate that marginalizes the poor.