So I blew a gasket when I read THIS STORY in the New York Times last week, about how the largely white staff of an anti-abortion group is running all through predominantly African American churches and colleges around Georgia, telling black folks that abortion is nothing more than a “womb lynching” designed to “kill off blacks.” Buoyed by stats that show black women get about 40 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S., despite being only 13 percent of the population, the group is tapping African Americans to boost the anti-abortion cause—one that has long been identified as a predominantly white Republican tenet. For good measure, the group insists that Planned Parenthood is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to abort Black babies.
Of course, I love me some black babies, and obviously, the last thing I want is to have them killed off. Indeed, full disclosure: I’m pro-life—for me. But I think women should have the right to make the very personal CHOICE to become mothers without the government legislating our wombs.
So what’s got my goat about this group’s efforts to recruit blacks to their anti-abortion cause? Well, the same group of conservative Republicans that are running around telling black teens and young black women to have their babies are usually the first ones to snatch away the support system young mothers need to take care of their children. They say no to everything—food stamps, welfare, raises in the minimum wage, paid maternity leave, childcare subsidies, and any other program that would help lift black children out of poverty, and then demonize black moms for being poor and raising their kids in poverty. What right does any one person have to demand a woman have a baby if that woman knows good and doggone well she can’t take care of that child?
Here’s an idea: Instead of spreading the ridiculous claim that abortion is tantamount to black genocide, maybe those same “black baby saviors” could focus their energies on helping black teens and women protect themselves from getting pregnant in the first doggone place. Let the statistics tell it, and black girls and women are slowly killing off themselves by not doing what it takes to protect themselves during sex. For sure, the numbers of unplanned pregnancies is on the rise among black teens and HIV and AIDS stats show that black women are under siege. Though black and Latina women represented only 24 percent of all U.S. women combined in 2005, they accounted for a whopping 82 percent of the estimated total AIDS diagnoses for women in 2005. And the Centers for Disease Control reveals even more disturbing news:
• HIV is the leading cause of death for Black women (including African American women) aged 25–34 years.
• The rate of AIDS diagnosis for Black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and four times the rate for Latina women
• In 2006, teen girls represented 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds; Latino teens represented 19%.
Clearly, the reason black women are having so many unwanted pregnancies and contracting and dying from HIV and AIDS is because they’re NOT PROTECTING THEMSELVES. Loretta Ross, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective in Atlanta breaks it down best in the New York Times story when she says a lack of access to birth control, lack of education, and even a high rate of sexual violence in black communities creates “a perfect storm” for high pregnancy rates. I would gather the same thing can be said for those high STD rates.
What, then, do we do? Well for starters, we stop it with all the silly “womb lynching” talk and get serious about empowering black teens and young black women with the information they need to protect themselves. This is why I’m Rocking the Red Pump today here on MyBrownBaby—in support of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). Click HERE to see what you can do to HELP women get tested, protect themselves, and, most importantly, empower themselves to make choices about their sexuality that positively impact their lives. This isn't about politics. It's about saving lives.
Rock the Red, y’all—and teach our babies (and their mothers!) how to protect themselves.
MyBrownBaby is Rocking the Red Pump as part of National Women/Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, with the hope that this post, and dozens more spearheaded by Awesomelyluvvie and The Fabulous Giver of The Red Pump Project, encourages women to protect themselves. A great way to do this is to know your status; click HERE to find a low-cost, pain-free testing site near you. You can find out more information, too, by visiting this special page on the United States Health and Human Services website, or checking out local programs today in your area.