Another day. Another offensive anti-choice billboard targeting African Americans

Thanks to Faith Pennick for another hard-hitting guest post.  You can read the post she authored about women filmmakers here.

The new (but not really new) trend these days is pro-life organizations putting up billboards in primarily Black communities, with the intent of shaming Black women and their reproductive options. The latest version is a billboard unveiled in my hometown of Chicago, about a mile-and-a-half from where I grew up, featuring Chicago’s adopted son, President Barack Obama.

Once again, our experiences as African American women are funneled into the narrow existence of nurturer, caretaker and sacrificial lamb for the race/family/society. It’s our job to birth the next President or the next great Oscar-winning actor. That simplistic notion fails to embrace two key points that impact a Black woman (or any woman’s) choice to terminate a pregnancy:

1) In most cases, a child who rises to greatness was raised by a mother or parents who LOVED THEM AND WANTED TO HAVE THEM, and that’s not to say that some of those same mothers/parents did not consider abortion early in the pregnancy.
2) What about those women with unwanted pregnancies who may THEMSELVES want to be President of the United States or an Oscar-winning actor (or doctor, lawyer, teacher, astronaut…)?

Why are the dreams of the potential mother less important than the possible dreams of a fetus? Likely because, explicitly or implicitly, the dreams of women—in particular Black women–are typically discounted overall in American society…?  [Read more...]

Was Margaret Sanger a Racist?

Last week our tributes to Margaret Sanger, the founder of the modern birth control movement, drew some heavy discussion over on Facebook and Twitter. Many friends and members of our Facebook group e-mailed me to say that they have a difficult time honoring Sanger, because of her participation in the eugenics movement. I had already planned to write about post about the eugenics link, but the discussions I had last week reconfirmed the necessity of interrogating the question: was Margaret Sanger a racist?

It is no secret that Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist, but that statement needs to be put into historical context. The discussion of historical context is not meant to be an excuse or an apology for Margaret Sanger’s beliefs. But it is important to judge Sanger’s beliefs according to the scientific culture of her time.

Eugenics was a theory about improving hereditary qualities by socially controlling human reproduction. Eugenicists were hoping to improve the human race by preventing people with genetic defects from reproducing, and limiting birth control and abortion for women who were considered “fit” or healthy. This concept got interpreted as a justification for racism, and eugenics was incorporated into the Nazi regime. [Read more...]