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Universal mother : transnational migration and the human rights of Black women in the Americas
School of Law Faculty Publications (2001)
  • Hope Lewis

Community-based or personal forms of identity, as well as some externally imposed gender, race, and cultural stereotypes operate simultaneously to influence global markets. This Article explores the human rights implications of the stories surrounding a female migrant household worker as they exemplify how perceptions about identity can shape legal responses and how legal frameworks can shape perceptions of identity. The identities associated with the migrant household worker seemed to constitute a uniquely complex illustration of the intersection of race, gender, ethnicity, class, immigration status, nationality, and disability. However, the stories establish that all identities can be equally complex. This Article suggests that human rights discourse be flexible enough to address the multiplicity of forms in which identity-based violations can occur. It also recommends that the stories of many Black female migrant workers must be intersectional and recognize the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights. Human rights stories must include economic, social, and political rights and governments must be held accountable to the citizens for their complicity in violations of those rights. For many female migrant household workers, the force of transnational economic inequities and the related destabilization of home, community, culture, and socio-economic opportunity must also gain the increased focus of human rights discourse and activism. To be legitimate, the human rights framework must be a useful tool for those Black women whose rights are violated regardless of the geographic location.

  • Black women,
  • migrant,
  • immigrant,
  • worker,
  • U.N. World Conference Against Racism,
  • Afro-Caribbean,
  • transnational,
  • Critial Race Feminist,
  • Third World,
  • Mavis Baker,
  • Baker v. Canada,
  • Canadian Supreme Court,
  • Jamaica,
  • domestic,
  • discrimination,
  • mental illness,
  • schizophrenic,
  • illegal alien,
  • U.N. Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,
  • civil rights,
  • political rights,
  • economic rights,
  • social rights,
  • cultural rights,
  • race,
  • class,
  • sexuality,
  • mental capacity,
  • gender,
  • feminist,
  • globalization,
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
Publication Date
October 1, 2001
Publisher Statement

Originally published in The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, v.5 (Fall 2001), pp. 197-231.

Citation Information
Hope Lewis. "Universal mother : transnational migration and the human rights of Black women in the Americas" School of Law Faculty Publications (2001)
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