Reproductive Justice from a Black Woman’s Perspective

25 May

Black pro-choice women have got to come out of hiding to show that it’s okay to think in other terms and that times and ideas have changed.  We have to be come a visible part of the reproductive justice movement because I believe that black women have a lot to offer, and our perspectives, experiences, and opinions matter.

Historically, the black community has been very conservative when it comes to abortion and homosexuality (we can discuss the latter another time) and it is crippling our community by draping such matters in a cloak of shame resulting in a veil of silence.  It is time to come out and start talking about what’s really going on so that people can live in truth and honesty and operate with integrity.
We have to start associating abortion with dignity and hope and try to view it as a viable option. It is not my aim to desensitize us to abortion and deem it the automatic thing to do, because it is a very serious subject matter. However, it is my hope that we can lose the religious association and fear of eternal damnation and start thinking logically and in terms of what will be best for us as a people and generations to come.  Whether a woman chooses to continue or her terminate her pregnancy, the decision to do so needs to be made as result of unbiased, truthful information, free of shame, guilt, or stigma.

Although there is a stigma in the black community about abortion, black women are clearly getting them, but maybe more black women would feel that abortion is a choice if the shame is stripped away.  We have to send the message that there is no shame in making a choice that will best benefit us in the long run.  Beyond the shame, secrecy, and guilt, there is so much life beyond an abortion, so many opportunities to be discovered. The wrong of an unwanted pregnancy can’t be made right by choosing to continue with the pregnancy out of guilt, punishment or sense of obligation.  If for no other reason than that, black pro-choice women have to come out of hiding and say that. We have to connect with our sisters and show compassion, humanity, and understanding so that they know that they are more than things they’ve done and that they don’t have to let one mistake dictate the course of their lives.

The black community has been a little suspicious of the government, especially in regards to health care because it has been led to believe that “the man” is out to get rid of black people (such as the Tuskegee Experiment, AIDS being a goverment conspiracy, and Planned Parenthood or abortion being a way to keep black women from reproducing and killing us off). However, black pro-choice women can help dissipate that fear. We must do that.

We must stop hiding and must stand up and be counted. As sistas, we have a reputation of being outspoken, bold, and assertive. I can’t think of a better arena in which to put those characteristics to work, but for some reason, we fall silent when it comes to reproductive justice.  I’ve lost some friends and changed what some people think of me by coming out as unequivocally pro-choice, but you know what? I don’t really care. I can’t be bothered. My community is in a fight for its very existence and there are more urgent tasks at hand than worrying about whom I offend because of my pro-choice stance.

2 Responses to “Reproductive Justice from a Black Woman’s Perspective”

  1. NYCprochoiceMD May 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    I applaud your effort to get more black women (and the men who love them) involved in reproductive justice. The pro-choice movement has not dealt well with the history of forced sterilization and other forms of “population control” that have affected women of color, and I imagine that is part of the reason black women are suspicious of abortion and those who advocate for greater access to it. I hope that our new focus on reproductive justice will help distance us even farther from that terrible past, especially if we avoid focusing exclusively on abortion and family planning and instead focus on improving the lives of women in all ways by providing education, employment, and housing opportunities.

  2. KiaJD May 26, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Kudos. I am a Black woman who speaks freely and openly about being pro-choice, pro-woman and pro-reproductive justice. I’ve been using my blog, twitter and facebook to share my views. Everyone might not be ready to vocalize their support, but at least I can share what I’m reading and thinking with them. I totally agree that normalizing these conversations in our community is imperative to moving forward.

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