In 2013 the US Supreme Court effectively granted custody of an almost four-year-old child to adoptive white parents over the opposition of her Cherokee birth father and the Cherokee Nation in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (the “Baby Veronica” case). This essay examines the Court ruling, and the protracted custody and jurisdictional struggles in its wake, in order to show how whiteness in the US has been historically constituted not only as a form of property but also as the capacity to possess. Against the perspective that colonialism persists in the US only insofar as indigeneity remains legible as racial difference, this essay focuses on how Adoptive Couple served as a means of reasserting white heteronormative rights to possess and to deny culpability for the ongoing conditions and consequences of colonization and multiple forms of racial violence in the present.
The statements by Alito and the adoptive couple’s attorney are reminiscent of efforts by US policymakers and federal agencies to deny or subordinate the political
terms of indigenous sovereignty and reject historical treaty rights by subsuming
American Indians as racialized “minority” citizens.8
It is also significant for characterizing the separation and custody battle between Maldonado and Brown as a conflict between a woman of color and a man with suspect racial claims, since Brown’s Cherokee citizenship was often depicted in the media as questionable. For instance, National Public Radio’s report on the case began by stating, “Christy Maldonado’s ethnic background is Hispanic” and, in the next sentence, merely that Brown “considers himself Cherokee.”10 The question of ethnicity and race was displaced onto and emphasized in the dispute between Maldonado and Brown in such a way as to exonerate the adoptive couple and authorize their claims as altogether unencumbered by race.
I have the paper so if anyone in reading the entire article, please email me...It's definitely worth a read...It took time but this analysis of colonizers and race is spot-on. ...firstname.lastname@example.org.
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