Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Reproductive Justice Movement vs. The Black Anti-Choice Movement

Loretta Ross, the National Coordinator of Sister Song, has a lot to say about the anti-choice movement and its impact on women of color. Her recent post on RH Reality Check , brings to light an issue that many women and men may not be aware of: the African-American anti-choice movement.

Loretta discusses how the white anti-choice movement has attracted African -American right-wing conservatives and religious zealots to speak on their behalf to the African-American community. Dr. Alveda King, the niece of the famous civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is an anti-choice advocate and has made speeches across the country against reproductive freedom. She has used her connection with the King family effectively to garner attention for African American anti-choice activists, despite the fact that MLK Jr. was a supporter of family planning and Planned Parenthood.)

What kinds of things are being said? These anti-choice activists proclaim that abortion is a form of genocide and the source of social problems with communities of color. African American women are being “accused of ‘lynching’ our children in our wombs and practicing white supremacy on ourselves.” The views expressed by Dr. Alveda King and others are a vocal minority, but the attention their comments garner does not give this impression.

What can you do?

Don’t believe the hype. The arguments put forth by the African-American anti-choice movement fail to acknowledge the complicated role racism, socio-economic status, and sexism play in the daily experiences of women of color. In fact, the very foundation of this movement is rooted in blatantly sexist rhetoric that undercuts women’s ability to make appropriate decisions for themselves and their families.

Pay attention. Ross notes the importance of knowing the background of these self-appointed representatives of communities of color. It is crucial to know the context, connections, and funding sources to understand the true motivations of any spokesperson.

Speak out in support of reproductive justice. Every woman should be guaranteed the fundamental right to decide if and when she chooses to start a family. Talk to your friends, family, and even strangers about your commitment to reproductive justice and debunk the misinformation being spread by the anti-choice movement. Don’t allow your voice to be drowned out by a small group of people who don’t represent your beliefs. As Loretta Ross notes, “we need to let the world know that they do not speak for Black women.” I am a black woman interning at NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and they do not speak for me!

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