Idaho Planned Parenthood agreed to racist donation

ppidaho.jpgPlanned Parenthood of Idaho is taking (justifiable) heat after an employee agreed to take a donation aimed at aborting black fetuses.

The call to Idaho came in July to Autumn Kersey, vice president of development and marketing for Planned Parenthood of Idaho.
On the recording provided by The Advocate, an actor portraying a donor said he wanted his money used to eliminate black unborn children because “the less black kids out there the better.”
Kersey laughed nervously and said: “Understandable, understandable. … Excuse my hesitation, this is the first time I’ve had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I’m excited and want to make sure I don’t leave anything out.”

You can read the whole exchange here and listen to it here; it was part of an anti-choice effort to “catch” abortion providers taking funds from obviously racist donors.
What so awful about this, in addition to Kersey’s horrifying response on the call, is that this plays directly into anti-choice talking points about abortion and race.
Rebecca Poedy, CEO of PP of Idaho said, “A fundraising employee violated the organization’s principles and practices when she appeared to be willing to accept a racially motivated donation…We apologize for the manner in which this offensive call was handled. We take full responsibility for the actions of the fundraising staff member who created the impression that racism of any form would be tolerated at Planned Parenthood. We took swift action to ensure that each of our employees understands their responsibility to communicate clearly with donors about the fact that we believe in helping all individuals, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, make informed decisions about their reproductive health care.”

Join the Conversation

  • kenyatticee

    I haven’t read all the comments, so forgive me if someone has already pointed this out. The founder of PP Margaret Sanger was a dedicated eugenisist. She freely and openly advocated sterilization for many people she considered unworthy=’not white’. As a black woman, I have already been skeptical of that organization….not a surprise….

  • Qi

    I’m not sure anyone has pointed this out before but, if you thought PP was racist and targeting black babies, why would you target IDAHO Planned Parenthood?? Because there are so many blacks in Idaho. IDAHO Planned Parenthood is targeting black babies. Really. LOL.

  • kissmypineapple

    Regardless of what the donor intended an organization can do whatever it wants with the donations.
    Wrong.
    If it were me, I’d personally want to take the money, then go “Haha! We didn’t actually use it the way you wanted!”
    But of course that’s not ethical in any way.

    It’s actually illegal. I’ll have my Masters in NonProfit Management this summer, and it was hammered into our heads repeatedly throughout my coursework: donor intent is sacred. We hit this over and over again during my nonprofit law classes. If you cannot or will not use donations the way a donor intends them to be used, you legally cannot accept the money. If at any time after money has been accepted it becomes impossible to use the money in the way the donor originally intended, you must give it back or prove that their intent was broad enough to include something else your organization does.
    So, no. You can’t take a donation and do whatever you want with it. Doing so invites a whole lot of nasty litigation and potentially the loss of your tax status and/or dissolution of your organization depending on the severity of the financial transgression.

  • kenyatticee

    @Qi,I meant the whole PP organization, not just Idaho. If I understood the news article correctly, the pro-lifers targeted PP organizations in seven states. I would be interested in the results of the other six states…

  • EG

    The founder of PP Margaret Sanger was a dedicated eugenisist. She freely and openly advocated sterilization for many people she considered unworthy=’not white’. As a black woman, I have already been skeptical of that organization….not a surprise….
    See, this is exactly why the fucking VP of marketing and development should be especially attuned to this issue, and PP needs to fire and publicly repudiate this woman. It’s not only about the immorality of being racist; it’s about the image of the entire organization.

  • kenyatticee

    the fact that you yourself have pointed out that Idaho is very white, should emphasize even more how reprehensible, Ms. Kersey’s response was…

  • Qi

    kenyatticee,
    I know but, I doubt there was anything controversial because the Advocate would have released the recordings. Which seven states? The article mentions only Idaho and Ohio. Those are states where minorities are underrepresented, so it seems strange if they are interested in racism to try and call them.
    The Advocate is clearly not interested in racism, they just want to generate an embarassing story for PP using their forward-leading script.

  • http://angryyoungwomanblog.blogspot.com angryyoungwoman

    Oh, man, this sucks. As an Idaho woman I have to say that the conservatives who dominate the state are doing ALL THEY CAN to restrict reproductive rights. They will find any means possible to embarass or denigrate PP. The nearest PP to me is five hours away. When I tried to get birth control at a dr, he told me he isn’t encouraged to give it to unmarried women. I had to convince him I wouldn’t be having sex. This is just to convince you that Idaho is a wasteland when it comes to reproductive rights. PP here could really use some help.

  • xxhelenaxx

    I haven’t read all the comments, so forgive me if someone has already pointed this out. The founder of PP Margaret Sanger was a dedicated eugenisist. She freely and openly advocated sterilization for many people she considered unworthy=’not white’. As a black woman, I have already been skeptical of that organization….not a surprise….”
    I can admit I’m wrong about this–if she’s an admin. assistant she should have anticipated a “set-up” type thing.
    That said I’m sick of the notion that you support “eugenics” if you believe in family planning, which should be taken for what it is–while what you say about Sanger is true in this day and age anyone, of any race, could benefit from resources that allow them to enjoy sex without that necessarily resulting in a child that don’t want/can’t provide minimum financial or emotional stability of. Simple as that.
    There has to be a middle ground between “it’s society’s fault for the expense of raising a child” and “if children are born poor, they and their parents are on their own, period,” thus eliminating government responsibility to address generational poverty/working-poverty.
    Government, mainstream society, etc. can not (and should not) be blamed when men and women, who understand that unprotected sex = pregnancy or STI risk
    (who have SOME access to condoms, if not IUDs or the Pill) nevertheless refuse to use them and could give a shit about their capacity as or desire to raise a child to the child THEY brought into the world (not the government; not de facto segregation, if race is the topic at stake; not anyone but the parents themselves).
    I realize there is a blur between the environment one grows up in and the choices they make among limited options, but again, I don’t think individuals are completely absolved of responsibility for their own lives and should remain as such, until we close the educational gap, the socioeconomic gap, etc. etc.
    That and at this point the whole notion of anyone trying to limit another race’s population is drowned out by the fact that this world has plenty of children (and parents, but especially children) who are effectively parentless or have parents neutralized by an environment where population/citizens needs FAR, FAR outpaces the willingness of a legitimate, sustainable government to help its people; sustainable agriculture/food sources, sustainable economic/social infrastructure; etc. etc.
    Maybe people are necessarily advocates of eugenics, but that doesn’t mean it’s neutral when someone who is living hand to mouth by THEMSELVES (without a financial dependent), or has limited employable skills, or is hanging on by the skein of their teeth in an environment that would be toxic for a PET (let alone a kid),etc. etc.–when, despite all of these troubling conditions, people knowingly bring children into the world and blame it on society’s foot-dragging (that’s problematic too, but again–people should take responsibility for their fertility and individual life choices on SOME level, just as society should concurrently work at addressing the educational gap, shitty adoption/parental counseling/foster care policy, drug rehabilitation for addicts who may have sexual/child abuse in their histories, etc. etc. etc….tall orders monetarily and in terms of policy trial-and-error, even those policymakers actually give a damn about the issue.)

  • Jenna

    The very worst part of this for me, and I work at the local University, is how quickly and neatly this has taken women out of the debate on choice. I spent all day yesterday talking about this (disclosure – I work at the local university, the one that provided the education to Kersey) and what I kept hearing was “babies being aborted based on the color of their skin; that’s a damn nightmare.” Yeah, it would be, if that were the reason. But what woman ever made the decision to terminate based on the fetus’s skin tone? That’s laughable. Women make that decision for a variety of reasons, and I have yet to hear of a Black woman deciding not to continue a pregnancy because the kid was Black. A donor’s intent may be based on hideous racism, sure. But the mother who walks in the door is making an uncoerced decision. If we are to support women in their decisions, let’s not keep framing the argument based on what the donor’s intent was. Whatever his intent was, mom’s decision is her own. I’m really struggling with that Gonzalez-decision kind of thought, that “abortion inherently hurts women by allowing them to murder, or commit genocide” or whatever.
    And I also agree that PP should have had some kind of policy in place. This was a pretty egregious example. But given that PP is a dirty word here (the other one is ACLU), and that funding is almost always hanging on a thread, I can see why she would have tried to salvage the donation. (Not condoning that; it should still have been handled very differently, even if she was caught off guard.)
    Because checking out someone’s politics is a whole ‘nother mess too. Do we accept donations if this person isn’t racist but is completely homophobic? As much as I want to believe all the money comes from people who are across-the-board non-assholes, I wonder if that’s realistic.
    Worst of all, for me, is the fact that the students that come out of the University where I work are not being educated in how to talk about race and recognize that when the conversation goes sideways like that they have a responsibility to respond appropriately. Instead, in White Idaho, there’s this idea that talking about race is something to shy away from, that it’s impolite or whatever, which perpetuates the problem. Instead of getting real about the conversation, people here get ultra-polite, which means many missed opportunities.
    Interesting how the discussion has turned to organizational policy ethics and what education should be offering people. Back here the folks are still stuck on “abortion is murder” and debating that.

  • exelizabeth

    I don’t know what Kersey’s thought process was, and maybe she was truly flummoxed by the call, but she needs to be held accountable and fired. It sucks to be punished for making a mistake, if it was indeed a mistake, but that is the consequence of some mistakes. Planned Parenthood can’t just apologize and “take responsibility.” They need to apologize and actually DO something, which is fire Kersey and immediately refresh their fund raisers on the policies for dealing with suspicious callers.
    Also, I am interested by the point someone made that this CAN’T be the first call these people made. I bet you they had 100 people turn them down before they got her. Can we hear THOSE tapes, please, The Advocate?

  • Kmari1222

    “An all-too-common response on the part of white people when confronted with overt racism.”
    because only whites are racists, right? wow. Nobody else is confronted with racism and responds that way. That seems like a really weird and racist statement to me.

  • madhattress

    You know, I’ve been reading the comments here and on Jezebel and I’ve noted two things:
    1. A lot of people, despite the fact that in the article it explicitly says Kersey holds a high-level position, frame their apologizing for her on the basis that she was a receptionist or some sort of oppressed, lower-level employee. I think that says interesting things about some pretty deeply embedded notions of gender even amongst feminists.
    2. I shouldn’t be shocked, but I actually am, that people are so actively apologizing for and glossing over Kersey’s handling of the situation.
    Kersey, and all of us, are responsible for how we deal with the world and she played into the worst of liberal white privilege. Sorry, but she did. She allowed someone to explicitly say they wanted to decrease the number of black people in the US, agreed with it, and fully intended to take the donation. Whether or not she perceives herself as racist, that action was racist and only highlights what white people can allow to happen in their midst.
    It’s racist. Defenses of her are racist. Stop defending PP long enough to own up to it. The anti-choicers are fucked up, but so is the defense of the woman in this situation.

  • TizLock79

    This is truly sad. I don’t necessarily agree with the tactics employed by the entrappers, but it does expose an ugly side to PP.
    I am a nonprofit program director, and play a role in development. It may not make you the big bucks, but when you are an organization standing on your principles, they are of key importance. Even in a shocking situation, they ought not to be pushed aside – otherwise, what is the point?
    A development director is the salesperson of an organization. They should represent their product honestly, even if it loses the sale.
    Ms. Kersey made a terrible mistake in her willingness to misrepresent her organization by allowing a “donor” a sense of their racist agenda being fulfilled. How do we know this isn’t happening all over?

  • Jessica Rose

    Because of the actions of one idiot, every other Planned Parenthood employee in this country is going to be viewed as a racist. Thanks a lot, Idaho!

  • BabyPop

    I shouldn’t be shocked, but I actually am, that people are so actively apologizing for and glossing over Kersey’s handling of the situation.

    I don’t think that people are trying to gloss it over. I think that we are rightly deeply skeptical about taking deceptive anti-choicers at face value. These are people that have mock funerals for aborted fetuses, for Christ’s sakes! They have demanded that women’s medical records be released to them. They trick people into coming into their religious “clinics” for “ultrasounds” performed by nonmedical professionals. I’m not saying that the woman who took the call shouldn’t have called the person out on their racism and, upon a thorough investigation, be terminated if the call is just as it sounded. But I would not put it past these idiots to call around forever, edit words and statements together, etc.

    There is a lot being left out of these tapes. Again, I am probably biased because I am currently working for PP Idaho, but Autumn is about as far from racist as you can get. According to her, this is not the sequential order of the conversation…either on the tape or on the transcript

    It is also worth noting that the Statesman broke the story on the very day some anti-choice legislation was being debated in the Idaho House Health and Welfare committee, even though this event took place in July.

    They lie to teens and adults alike about sex ed, contraception, the long-term effects of abortion (see also: breast cancer). They do it ON PURPOSE. They’re not blissfully ignorant. So it is not beyond all reason that people are a bit skeptical of this video. It has obviously been visually edited. Do you really think the audio portion was not also?

  • madhattress

    @BabyPop
    Yeah…see, if people were saying “I don’t believe Kersey said that. I think the anti-choicers altered what she said. You know they do that.” — I could get behind that. It’s a reasonable question.
    That’s not what the vast majority of comments have said. The comments have said things like
    –“What was the employee supposed to say? ‘We don’t accept donations from racists!?'”
    –“I definatly agree that the person should be fired, but I honestly would have made the same mistake earlier today if someone rang up and wanted to make a “racist donation”.”
    –“i see how she screwed up and make a bad judgment call–i don’t think that alone makes her a horrible person or even a racist. just someone who didn’t speak up and challenge hatred and bigotry when it reared its ugly head.”
    –“I work doing calling and doing fundraising (not for PP though) and in regards to using the “understandable” response, that was one of the first things that they taught us in training.”
    I could go on quoting from the comments above. I don’t want to be an ass, but I believe this is a situation where we really need to check ourselves.

  • Henrietta G Tavish

    I think we all need to recognize that there’s a thin but meaningful line between racism and simple practically. For example, in informing pregnant women about some of the drawbacks of adoption, Planned Parenthood’s national web site has noted that “there is no guarantee that homes will be found for all children waiting to be adopted . . . [t]his is especially true for children of color and children with disabilities.” Certainly a woman pregnant with a fetus of color would want to consider this information in deciding whether or not bring a child into the world. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with a donor specifying that he wants to fund the termination of a fetus that might end as an unadoptable child due to its membership in a race that Planned Parenthood has rightly recognized a statistically less desirable to adoptive parents.

  • kissmypineapple

    Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with a donor specifying that he wants to fund the termination of a fetus that might end as an unadoptable child due to its membership in a race that Planned Parenthood has rightly recognized a statistically less desirable to adoptive parents.
    That’s pretty disgusting. Just… ugh, are you serious? Of course there’s something wrong with that. And beyond just being racist, it’s also not okay for a donor to suggest that’s how they want their money used, b/c PP legally couldn’t accept the money for that use in the first place.

  • madhattress

    Yep. Eugenics. Totally practical, not at all racist.
    /sarcasm

  • Jenna

    “She allowed someone to explicitly say they wanted to decrease the number of black people in the US, agreed with it, and fully intended to take the donation.”
    Yeah. This is where she got totally off-kilter. She had a big opportunity to stand up and tell off a racist and didn’t. This in and of itself is horrifying.
    But where I get hung up is that there’s all this talk about what the donor wanted, but the MOM doesn’t want to carry this baby to term. Does that then mean that she’s complicit in genocide? Because that’s where the spin on this starts to head.
    I don’t know if I’m willing to head down that path.

  • kissmypineapple

    Jenna, the pregnant woman in question typically doesn’t abort because the baby is black.

  • Henrietta G Tavish

    That’s pretty disgusting. Just… ugh, are you serious? Of course there’s something wrong with that.
    Like Planned Parenthood, I’m just being realistic. If a woman carrying a fetus of color wants to abort because she knows that it’s “especially true” that her child might not be adopted because of its race, who are we to question her decision to spare it such a sad fate? That humanitarian consideration is precisely what led to the national Planned Parenthood to include the caveat in its discussion of adoption. It doesn’t suddenly become racism simply because a well-meaning donor shares the organization’s worldview and wants to assist the mother in declining to bear a child that will be warehoused in an orphanage.

  • Jenna

    Yeah, I know…but scarily enough, most of the local controversy has revolved around that very idea. Which tells me that the woman has been taken right out of the equation.
    In Idaho, folks like to pretend fetuses float in mid-air. What is this woman of whom the feminists keep speaking?

  • avast2006

    Let me get this straight.
    Someone, who is not herself a racist at all, was duped by someone using a slick script, someone who also is probably not a racist at all, but was pretending to be one in order to trump up a spurious charge against her organization, which itself is not racist at all … and she therefore should be fired for promoting racism.
    Just so we’re all clear on this.

  • ratcity

    The defense of this woman & her actions is over the top. This mistake is being compounded here. This thread justifies the criticisms of mainstream feminism by people of color.
    The defense here sounds too much like: a racist feminist? That’s unpossible!
    I too can see the possibility that a good person made an uncharacteric mistake. But that’s not really the only way to look at. What she said was offensive & many people won’t be as quick to assume it’s meaningless. Many people won’t be as quick to assume that the most important thing here is to deal with the anti-choicers rather than the racist actions by PP.
    So, she might have made an out-of-character mistake. Well, this is the sort of mistake that you learn from at a different job.
    And sure, this shouldn’t be used to justify unfair statements about PP. But minimizing the racism of the employee is minimizing the issues of people of color to support feminism in general. There couldn’t be a more clear example of this sort of thing.
    Some of you sound so sympathetic towards this woman. What if she’d said something offensive about something you cared about?

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    Ratcity:
    Cosigned.

  • http://woc-unity.blogspot.com Malaika924

    Ratcity:
    Cosigned.

  • Jenna

    “What if she’d said something offensive about something you cared about?”
    She did. And I am not trying to minimize that, not one bit.
    I just think it’s also racist to agree with the idea that Black women who choose to end a pregnancy are committing genocide, because it implies that women lack the capacity to make that decision and thus must somehow be protected from themselves. That mess is already being written into law, so I hate to see it perpetuated.
    I have used this over and over again this week to talk about why White students who don’t think that they need to learn anything about racial theory because “it doesn’t have anything to do worth me” are dangerously ignorant.

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    I just think it’s also racist to agree with the idea that Black women who choose to end a pregnancy are committing genocide…
    But you’re the only one here who even brought that up. Nobody else has said that black women were contributing to genocide if they choose to have an abortion.

  • avast2006

    The Advocate is taking the position that providing a service which is taken advantage of disproportionately by blacks amounts to genocide against blacks on the part of Planned Parenthood.
    Given that those abortions cannot happen without the active participation of the women who are having the procedure, that implicates the black women as accessories to, if not direct agents of, that genocide.
    People who are leaning so heavily on the racist aspects of this situation are implicitly agreeing with this utterly bogus argument.

  • Jenna

    “But you’re the only one here who even brought that up. Nobody else has said that black women were contributing to genocide if they choose to have an abortion.”
    Sorry, I should have explained better. What I meant was, this is where the conversation has turned here in Idaho. Case in point: one of the local news affiliates called up one of the officers of the Black Student Alliance at the university, gave her what was probably a highly slanted explanation, and then asked her to comment. Her reply regarding the donation was “Taking it when it’s going towards aborting a black baby because the color of their skin, that’s horrible.”
    And of course, that plays right into a sacred racist myth – that if you can find one person who is Black or Chicano or whatever group you’re talking about who agrees with your position, then you can use that person to represent an entire group. (Never mind, of course, that misrepresenting the original facts to someone is manipulative and disrespectful.) So there’s been a great many White people here who have suddenly felt vindicated; “Hey, there’s a Black woman on TV who said this, so turns out I am right after all!”
    It’s sick, and sad. I certainly wouldn’t lose sleep if someone lost their job; but this has exposed institutional and systematic racism in a whole new way. And I want to know how to start dealing with that, too.

  • http://woc-unityblogspot.com Malaika924

    People who are leaning so heavily on the racist aspects of this situation are implicitly agreeing with this utterly bogus argument.
    Personally, the reason that I’m “leaning so heavily on the racist aspects of this situation”, is because that woman was complacent to the donor’s racist agenda. As a Black woman, I don’t have the privilege of nonchalance when race comes into the equation; my color doesn’t wash off.
    The woman stuck her foot in mouth. Now, she needs to answer for it.
    And of course, that plays right into a sacred racist myth – that if you can find one person who is Black or Chicano or whatever group you’re talking about who agrees with your position, then you can use that person to represent an entire group. (Never mind, of course, that misrepresenting the original facts to someone is manipulative and disrespectful.)
    I get what you’re saying, but bottom line: There was some racist shit going on on both sides. Yes, it sucks that this is being used as a banner for anti-choicers, but PP of Idaho and the woman who took the call need to answer for what happened, and it’s really sickening how so many people are just brushing that aside.

  • avast2006

    “As a Black woman, I don’t have the privilege of nonchalance when race comes into the equation; my color doesn’t wash off.”
    It isn’t nonchalance. It’s recognizing that somebody is pulling a dirty tactic worthy of one of Karl Rove’s wet dreams.
    The LA Advocate is not an anti-racism group. It is an anti-abortion group that is engaging in race-baiting as a red herring to their own agenda. Why aren’t you up in arms over their racist misconduct?
    They aren’t in it for the benefit of Blacks. They did this to try and shut down Planned Parenthood, period. The end result of that will be less reproductive choice for Black women. That’ll really help the Black cause, won’t it?
    By way of contrast, if Planned Parenthood accepted this (fake)donation for their disadvantaged minority fund, what would be the end result? More reproductive choice for Black women. (Not genocide of Black babies, unless you buy the proposition that the Black women are committing it.)
    You’re so worried that some nutcase (in this case a fraudulent one) is going to get away with thinking that he’s doing something horrible, when in reality he is helping the people he claims to hate. What better punishment than to have his own funds work against him?
    By contrast, if you throw Kersey out on her ear, you may be hurting your own cause. Which of those is the worse outcome for you? Particularly in this case, where the theoretical nutcase in question is a blatant straw-man? The LA Advocate isn’t on your side. You are being manipulated into hurting your own cause, and you’re swallowing it, hook, line and sinker.
    It isn’t nonchalance. It’s a big fat middle finger and a “Nice try, assholes,” to The LA Advocate.

  • BabyPop

    Malaika – I agree with you. Avast – I see where you’re coming from, but I honestly don’t get the “If you throw Kersey out on her ear, you may be hurting your own cause.”
    Anti-choicers did (and do) use race-baiting as a red herring, and the PP rep was complacent in that. “We” should be above that (*if* the exchange was posted unedited – I have my doubts) and she should be held accountable and even terminated if the account did go down as posted (I have my doubts for obvious reasons.)
    And, Jenna, ugh…yes the “A black woman on TV who said this, so turns out I am right after all!” is awful. Christ on a crutch, I see/hear this day in and day out by local folks on the newspaper web site to justify everything from victim-blaming to arguing that African-Americans are inherently more criminal. Repulsive.

  • Jenna

    “The woman stuck her foot in mouth. Now, she needs to answer for it.”
    Sure. She needs to be accountable, since there’s also a looooong history of White people being able to cry “But I didn’t mean it! It wasn’t intentional!”, ignoring that the outcome has negatively impacted the lives of other women. If she’s going to be let go, though, let it be for the right reason – for not educating herself about racial oppression enough to handle that call differently – not because abortion = genocide. I recognize that she comes from an environment where as a member of the dominant culture she’s been allowed (and encouraged, arguably) to ignore race as an issue, but at some point people need to take the responsibility to educate themselves. And if PP has some kind of policy on that, they needed to be absolutely clear on that to staff. I suspect maybe that didn’t happen here.
    Which of course leads me to what I’ve been pondering on all week; how do you try to educate people who don’t think that being educated is important? At work I spend a great deal of time trying to explain the mechanisms of privilege and oppression and students are not at all receptive; even the faculty and administrators often tell me I’m being “too sensitive”, that the intentions were good, blah blah blah. If no other good comes out of this, it’s at least given me an example of how my own University is doing its students no favors by failing to talk about race and gender in meaningful ways.

  • http://hugoschwyzer.net Hugo Schwyzer

    I recently started giving to Planned Parenthood again, after a nearly eight year hiatus during which I wandered over to the pro-life side in a fit of evangelical zeal.
    My students in my women’s studies course are almost entirely young women of color. I know that many utilize PP services here in our community — and they use services provided to them by other women of color, who utterly dominate the staff and leadership of PP Pasadena.
    Not using PP because of past racism (the idiot donation-taker in Idaho notwithstanding) is like not buying a Jetta in 2008 because Volkswagen cooperated with the Nazis seventy years ago.

  • http://woc-unity.blogspot.com Malaika924

    The LA Advocate is not an anti-racism group. It is an anti-abortion group that is engaging in race-baiting as a red herring to their own agenda. Why aren’t you up in arms over their racist misconduct?
    Fuck you ever so much for assuming I had no idea what The Advocate was. Oh and thanks for telling me what I should and shouldn’t be concerned with. Lawdy, Lawdy! What wouldn’t I do without without the nice white lady telling me how to think?
    Also, my quote:

    There was some racist shit going on on both sides.

    Of course it was race-baiting, and she was the one who fell for it. She should’ve taken the higher ground and she didn’t. Period. In the process, she showed her true colors, and you’re beginning to do the same.
    If she’s going to be let go, though, let it be for the right reason – for not educating herself about racial oppression enough to handle that call differently – not because abortion = genocide.
    I agree, totally.

  • heathersf

    this thread has got me seriously considering discontinuing this blog.
    especially the last few comments meant to freaking give some patronizing education to the black women.
    i have never before seen so clearly the racism in contemporary mainstream feminism, maybe as this issue is nicely contrasting what people apparently see as different ’causes’, feminsm and race.
    when push comes to shove, a bunch of you are trying to excuse or protect that woman rather than just admitting that a woman working for a planned parenthood is a racist, and that planned parenthood is protecting her. is it so hard to say?
    saying it doesn’t give the adovcate any power. and the duplicitious nature of the advocate doesn’t erase the racism of the woman from pp.
    if your working towards relieving oppression in some areas and supporting or ignoring it in others, your not doing anything but trying to climb the ladder.
    and i’ll finish by quoting the first comment on here…neither side has the monopoly on racist assholes, obviously.

  • avast2006

    “Fuck you ever so much for assuming I had no idea what The Advocate was.”
    Of course you know what the Advocate is. However, when making an argument, I have to show my train of thought, or people start making attacks based on what I left out, and we go off on even more ridiculous tangents chasing them. Attacking me for being excessively complete is counterproductive. Witness this paragraph.
    I’m not prepared to say whether Kersey is a racist or not, based on the evidence I have to hand within this thread and its links. I deeply distrust ANY embarassing statement trumpeted by the opponent of a group, when the statement was generated within an interaction instigated by that opponent with the express purpose of extracting just such a thing. Show me some evidence that doesn’t involve outright deception and manipulation.

  • Jenna

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here, because obviously this has opened up a whole ‘nother can of worms…it may be a new holiday, Can of Worms Day.
    First, I agree with heathersf and Malaika924. There is some serious bobbing and weaving around the issue at hand, which was that when White folks fail to confront racism (and it really doesn’t matter whether that’s intentional or not) they are perpetuating it. Which is at heart where this debate seems to be getting hung up.
    The default stance, if you grow up in a racist culture like Mainstream USA, is racism. If you are a White person, to be a racist in this culture doesn’t require that you do or learn anything. You do not have to be walking around in a white sheet to be a racist. You can absolutely have the best intentions, and still be behaving in ways that further racism. The messages are all laid out for you in the media, in the history, in structural inequality – you can pick it up in the air you breathe. You can get them by osmosis. Was what she did racist? Sure. But no more so than every other White person who doesn’t bother to educate herself or himself and thus acts in a jackass fashion, not knowing any better.
    The task that White folks are charged with, then, is to recognize the way that oppression works and stand up against it. NOT being a racist requires action and education. And if people ignore that responsibility, or minimize that to maintain feminist solidarity, then we get this whole knotty mess at PPI. Which is messed up anyway, given that it’s being used to cement into the local culture old tired notions about taking power over one’s reproduction away from certain groups of women. Which is scary, because there is some terrifying historical precedent for that.
    And don’t get me wrong, I love PPI. I’ve used their services. Hell, I found out I was pregnant there. Unlike the Pasadena one that Hugo mentioned, though, the leadership here tends to be mostly white. Just because I support their mission does it mean I should be quiet when there’s an issue like this? Or do I say something, if this is an organization I want to continue to serve women in Idaho, especially considering that they serve a decent percentage of women of color here, too? True feminist solidarity for me does not demand my silence or my complicity – it demands that organizations and people are flexible enough not to get defensive when they screw up.

  • kissmypineapple

    Avast, you sound like the MRA’s who won’t accept something is sexist until someone says “I fucking hate women.” And even then, they say, oh, he was just joking. He was trapped into saying that. He had just broken up with his uppity bitch girlfriend.
    All white people are racist. That includes me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it this time, too: If you are raised in a racist society, you will retain some racism, however insidious, and this woman had the right buttons pressed for it to come out. She screwed up. And when you screwed up that badly, you don’t get to keep your job. If I said something like that at work, I would be fired. It’s the same way for sexism. If you are raised in a sexist society, you retain sexism; it is a part of you. You have to work hard to get rid of it. To educate yourself. And to stay vigilant. These are things she did not do.
    This thread has, by and large, been shameful.

  • madhattress

    @Jenna
    That was beautifully laid out. Thank you.

  • Femineesta

    Wow, I just finished reading all the comments posted and let me say that I am so grateful that this discussion is going on. I’ve been making comments and taking notes of several interesting points as I read. Some I agree with whole heartedly, some I don’t and some I have to think about further to decide if I do or not. The point is that this is the type of discussion we should be having. Someone mentioned discontining this blog because of the negetive comments but this is in essence what happens when it get uncomfortable or messy. We should recognize that this necessary in order to gain comeptancy in this type of discussion.
    I see the exchanges between Malaika and Avast and I see them as a natural part of learning to comunicate with one another. The given is that a)you are going to offend someone and b)you might be offended too, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. This is exactly the types of discussions we should all be having in order to learn how to talk about intersecting oppressions.
    Now we just need to extended these discussions to the water cooler, the office, the classroom and anywhere else there is discourse.

  • avast2006

    “Avast, you sound like the MRA’s who won’t accept something is sexist until someone says “I fucking hate women.” And even then, they say, oh, he was just joking. He was trapped into saying that. He had just broken up with his uppity bitch girlfriend.”
    Frankly, if he had just broken up with his girlfriend (I’m not even going to touch your use of “uppity”), I probably would cut him some freaking slack. Provided that he behaved in a sane way the rest of the time, under those specific circumstances “I fucking hate women” is emotionally-charged shorthand for “I fucking hate what just happened, I’m in a lot of pain right now, and don’t even talk to me about relationships.” Imagine a woman who is in the throes of a painful divorce. Would you rake her over the coals for daring to say in the middle of a bad mood, “I fucking hate men,” or would you understand that what she really means by that is “I fucking hate divorce and I fucking hate my soon-to-be-ex-husband,”
    Now, if this hypothetical man kept saying that sort of thing for more than about a week, I’d probably tell him, “Dude, get a therapist.” If this hypothetical man were known for making statements like this without a provocation of a similar order as a breakup, then, yeah, he’s a misogynist turd, and I wouldn’t have anything to do with him in the first place. (Yes, I have run into men like this third case. They are assholes.)
    Can you see the difference?

  • Peepers

    Avast, I notice that kissmypineapple and Jenna condemn racist acts, whereas you keep reframing it as condemnation or defense of a person (Kersey or your hypothetical MRA).
    As someone already mentioned, well-meaning people are capable of racist and sexist behavior. As several other people mentioned, it is completely appropriate to hold people accountable for their racist or sexist behaviors, even if — nay, escpecially if — they consider themselves to be egalitarians.

  • Peepers

    Drat. My “prieview” is busted. Sorries for the typo.

  • avast2006

    I denounce racist acts. I also recognize extenuating circumstances. This incident was no Don Imus with his “nappy headed hos.” This was someone dishonest running rings around an unsuspecting person to get her to say something embarassing.
    The nature of the specific act in this case is that Kersey was manipulated into a position where she should have terminated the call when the person on the other end of the line started acting nuts, and she didn’t. I think it is a stretch to claim that is evidence that she actually believes that there should be fewer black people born, or that black people should be given lesser rights, or that black people are inferior, or whatever; that she secretly believed this all along, thanks to being raised white, and her facade slipped for that instant.
    If we want to focus a few words in isolation (“understandable”, “excited”), we should also look at other words (“hesitation”). The presence of that word tells me that she was aware something was seriously wrong, and was scrambling to regain control of the situation. It is entirely possible that she was thinking “Jeez, how do I handle this creep, we need full documentation of the call.” and wanted to keep him babbling while she got his info and a trace on the line. I really, really want the whole transcript, which we are never going to see, short of a police raid on LA Advocate headquarters to seize their source tapes. I am firmly convinced that we don’t have the whole tape, let alone the whole story. (Sorry, heathersf, “c’mon, just admit it, is it so hard to say?” does not constitute a compelling argument. I’m kind of difficult that way. It’s probably why I get put on juries so often when I get called up.)
    We are supposed to conclude that Autumn Kersey is a racist, and fire her on the pretext of racism, based on evidence provided by the LA Advocate, whose entire motivation in this situation is to produce that very appearance. Naturally, I distrust them entirely. We need to look at the whole picture. I think a balanced approach would be to take a look at her performance record over time, and also look at the policies and training in place at that time. If her service record does not bear out a profile of racism, then it would be appropriate to provide training to handle these kind of tricks, rather than to dismiss her outright. If she is sincere in it being a mistake, you can bet large sums she will be damned careful in her responses in the future.
    Certainly it would be a good idea for Planned Parenthood to reevaluate their programs, remove all references to race or minority status from them, and retrain all public-facing staff. It should be sufficient for “Women in need” to be based solely on the financial state of the client in question, at the time the request is made. Certainly adopting that formulation would prevent exactly this sort of misrepresantation-based attack in the future.

  • http://woc-unity.blospot.com Malaika924

    I denounce racist acts.
    Except this one.
    I also recognize extenuating circumstances.
    Except in the context of a racist act.
    This incident was no Don Imus with his “nappy headed hos.”
    So, there are degrees of assholery, now?
    The nature of the specific act in this case is that Kersey was manipulated into a position where she should have terminated the call when the person on the other end of the line started acting nuts, and she didn’t. I think it is a stretch to claim that is evidence that she actually believes that there should be fewer black people born, or that black people should be given lesser rights, or that black people are inferior, or whatever; that she secretly believed this all along, thanks to being raised white, and her facade slipped for that instant.
    Racism is not – for lack of a better term – that black-and-white. Racism is not only cross-burnings, lynchings, and water-cannons. Racism is a huge institution built upon little blocks of ignorance and hatred that needs to be dismantled brick by brick. What happened here was one of those bricks.
    We need to look at the whole picture.
    But you’re not looking at the whole picture. The whole picture not only includes her service record; it also includes the effect of her racist comment on black women and how PP of Idaho will be received because of it.
    Granted, I don’t know if Autumn Kersey is an outright racist, a closet racist, or just an ignorant white woman. But the fact does remain that her actions at the time were racist – whether she intended them to be or not – and disciplinary action needs to be taken.

  • http://woc-unity.blospot.com Malaika924

    Error:
    “Except in the context…” should read “Especially in the context…”