Kat @katsprat ?active 5 months, 2 weeks ago
Why do progressive organizations think it’s ok to throw women under the bus? Like this death penalty abolition group – Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
VADP recently issued what I thought was a pretty explicit pro-life fundraising appeal. I noted my offense and unsubscribed from their email list. What ensued was this bizarre chain of correspondence with their office and then the organization’s head: http://pastebin.com/gYD0vCYP.
First VADP acknowledged their fundraising message could be interpreted as a pro-life endorsement. Then they backtracked and pretended they never said that.
As the organization’s Executive Director, Steve Northup, tried to dismiss me repeatedly, I kept thinking of the weird continuity in the abolitionist movements. During slavery, white abolitionist leaders wanted amazing, eloquent freedmen like Frederick Douglass to tell their story and get off the box. “They didn’t want him to speak about Northern racism, to take on the whole picture of the anti-slavery movement as much as he did.” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4i2978.html)
VADP and similar organizations want disproportionately black death row exonerees to go around telling their stories, not about how after exoneration, they still can’t get jobs because they’re black men with criminal records. Just about the imprisonment and redemption. While white men like Steve run the show.
I think I want to say it’s qualitatively different rather than lesser as an evil, how women’s rights were pushed aside during abolition – then and now. One of the reasons it’s not lesser per se has to do with intersectionality. The women who VADP folks want to talk out of abortions are young, poor, and pregnant. So they are disproportionately likely to be minorities. And if they get those abortions, they have a better chance for a decent life. (http://www.alternet.org/study-women-denied-abortions-more-likely-suffer-domestic-violence-and-be-public-assistance)
So I feel like anti-abortion advocacy is an attack not just on women’s rights, but also on racial equality, because of the structural inequalities that color (hehe) the issue. And death penalty abolition, like any criminal justice issue, remains a itself an issue of racial justice above all, because of what we know about racial inequalities in policing, jury selection, sentencing, and the like.
Women’s rights, racial inequality, the use of public funds to discipline rather than build people up – these are all core progressive issues. When will progressives – and above all, progressive men – learn that it is not ok to throw women under the bus? (Call me. That’s when I’ll rejoin VADP.)