Anti-Abortion Billboards Target Black Women by Blaming Black Women
Is your anti-abortion billboard targeting the African-American community just not cutting it? Here's one way to take things up a notch: presidential assassination!
In the same vein of "The most dangerous place" billboards, this campaign, which appeared in Chicago's South Side this week, uses race-based rhetoric for anti-choice politics. This billboard is messed up for myriad reasons: the large leaps of logic necessary to go from having an abortion to killing the future president, the fact that the group behind it is actually (and unsurprisingly) headed and funded by white people, the bad graphics.
But most importantly, it's insulting to black women. SisterSong did an extensive response to the "Black children are an endangered species" anti-abortion campaign that went up a month ago. Loretta Ross's account of their swift action and rhetorical shift is a great read, and what she said about those billboards holds up for this one too:
Our opponents began a misogynistic attack to shame-and-blame black women who choose abortion, alleging that we endanger the future of our children. After all, many people in our community already believe that black men are an endangered species because of white supremacy. Our opponents used a social responsibility frame to claim that black women have a racial obligation to have more babies – especially black male babies -- despite our individual circumstances.
Either we were dupes of abortion providers, or we were evil women intent on having abortions – especially of black male children – for selfish reasons. In their first narrative, we were victims without agency unable to make our own decisions, pawns of racist, profit-driven abortion providers. In their second narrative, we were the uncaring enemies of our own children, and architects of black genocide.
In addition to blaming black women, these billboards erase is the systemic and historical inequality surrounding reproductive justice for women of color. As Ross said in her report, the real solution "is to help black women have fewer unintended pregnancies and to eliminate the obstacles that interfere with personal decision making." In addition, Ross notes that mainstream reproductive justice organizations have a responsibility to recognize their race fails and "step back and let women of color lead when race and gender intersect in abortion politics."
For other responses to the campaign, check out Black Women for Reproductive Justice's response at RH Reality Check, Stacey Muhammad's re-appropriated images that Colorlines posted, re-imagined billboards by Keep Your Boehner Out of My Uterus, and SharkFu's response at Angry Black Bitch.
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