As many of you know, the racist anti-choice billboard campaign that has been sweeping across America has come to my home state of Missouri. Missouri Right to Life launched a fundraising campaign using a billboard advertising both their organization and that the “most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” So far I’ve only been able to confirm one billboard in North St. Louis city…but there are rumors that these billboards are also up in rural areas throughout the state, areas where accusations that black women are dangerous don’t raise an eyebrow. The billboard in North city is located in a predominately black neighborhood that provides an almost laughable backdrop of black women going about the business of being human in front of the appalling race-baiting ad that questions our humanity.
Women of color have come together to organize and fight this billboard campaign and the racist stereotypes it perpetuates. We formed the Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Network and are circulating a petition demanding that Missouri Right to Life cease fundraising by attacking the humanity of black women.
What we haven’t done is take the bait.
There is an interesting pattern to this race-baiting campaign that involves the charge that black women are participating in genocide by utilizing the full range of reproductive health care…a pattern of bigots making a racist accusation and then constantly demand that black women prove them wrong.
This pattern isn’t new.
Hell, “birthers” have been working this angle for two years – defiantly protesting that they aren’t racist and that the President hasn’t provided enough proof of his American birth. Now, after he supplied them with the long form version of his birth certificate, they are staying true to form and refusing to accept that the case is closed.
The lie within the pattern is that if people of color would just make the case…win some mythical debate…if we just provided appropriate evidence we’d be off the hook for [insert accusation based on racist stereotype here].
It’s challenging to put into words just how disgusted I am with organizations that have the audacity to place themselves as judge and jury against people of color.
The thing is, bigots have been working this hustle for so long that many of us have been conditioned to respond to this mess.
I’ve found myself drafting responses that explain health care disparities, lack of access to affordable health care, poverty rates, maternal mortality rates and so on and so forth.
But before I can post those responses I come to my senses and remember that is what these antis want.
They want black women on the defensive…publishing facts and statistics as if our access to reproductive health care depends on that approval of racists.
Well, I’ve got news for race-baiting anti-choice organizations who think black women’s access to reproductive health care depends on convincing their intellectually challenged selves that we can make decisions and aren’t violent genocidal threats to our community – we don’t have a damn thing to be defensive about.
This racist billboard campaign and those who support it should be on the defensive. The only way this campaign works is if people accept that black women are automatically suspect…that our actions are those of fickle irresponsible unhinged simple minded sex machines who act before we think and who are easily bamboozled into participating in a plot masterminded by outside forces to eliminate our race.
This campaign doesn’t work if people trust and respect black women…know us and honor our right to decide whether to have children, to parent the children we have as we see fit, and to raise our families in communities free of violence and oppression.
Black women have nothing to be defensive about.
But Missouri Right to Life does.
Missouri Right to Life aggressively opposes the return of comprehensive sex education to our schools. Missouri Right to Life applauded Missouri’s Attorney General for filing suit against the new federal health care law…a law that would extend coverage to thousands of uninsured Missourians, including many working women of color who don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t get coverage through their employer. Missouri Right to Life endorsed federal legislators who are engaged in the latest Congressional assault on Medicaid and Medicare…an assault that would devastate communities in our state. Missouri Right to Life endorsed state legislators have opposed food assistance programs for children because they think “hunger is a motivator”…have worked tirelessly to fund unethical and deceptive crisis pregnancy centers while they refuse to even hear prevention legislation that would establish programs to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and thus reduce the rate of abortion. Missouri Right to Life endorsed state legislators recently filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits because they feel that people who apply for unemployment funds are attempting to enslave working people, are lazy and don’t want to work, and should be given “tough love” in the form of poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
Yeah, Missouri Right to Life and those who support the organization’s racist billboard campaign have some serious explaining to do.
But they won’t…because they are too busy fundraising through a campaign that attacks black women, shuts down any dialogue about health care disparities, and perpetuates racist stereotypes about people of color.
These billboards and racist anti-choice campaigns that seek to absolve society of its callous disregard toward people of color are, sadly, a profitable way to raise money in a state where far too many people find it easier to believe the worst of black women than to trust black women.
We’ve got nothing to be defensive about.
We have a demand – trust black women.