by Roy H. Montalvo on Jun 13, 2018 Uncategorized
Morris tells me, "I always assumed that she was lumped in with white in Alabama, versus black, because those were the only recognized races back then in the Deep South." Her experience exposes the gaps between bureaucratic permissibility and the complexity of racial identity. Those gaps haven't fully closed since Morris's childhood either: Some U.S. states still don't allow multiracial children to be marked as such on their birth certificates.
A recent controversy over birth certificates in Arkansas demonstrates that these slips of paper are imbued with political and social meaning. In 2015, a married couple, Marisa and Terrah Pavan, had their first child, who was conceived through sperm donation. The Arkansas Department of Health, or ADH, listed only Terrah, who gave birth to their daughter, on the baby's birth certificate. This was contrary to state law, under which the spouse of the birth mother also is automatically listed.