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

March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011 

Originally posted on Feminist for Choice Blog . By Faith Pennick (read more about Faith below)

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…?  I made a documentary in 2007 titled Silent Choices, in which Black women talked about their experiences in having abortions and the complicated reasons why they came to that decision. In all three cases, the women cited their desire to complete college and their post-college ambitions as one reason they terminated their pregnancies. No woman should be made to feel ashamed for choosing to better their lives and/or enhance their intellect, knowing that for many being a young mother may impede or halt pursing those dreams. And to those pro-lifers who would suggest that having more babies at any cost is what’s “best for the race?” Not that the majority of these pro-lifers care about what best for African Americans (because if they did, they would be buying billboard space pushing for jobs with living wages, access to quality education and intelligent, non-racist ways in fighting crime, among other things), but I say to them: all races thrive when their women have real options in health care, and when reproductive choices aren’t legally or financially obscured and condensed into insidious billboards.

About Faith:
Faith Pennick is a filmmaker and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her latest film is the documentary Weightless, about a scuba diving camp for plus-size women.  You can get more information about her work at www.orgchaos.com. Pennick is also on Twitter @orgchaosmedia.

 

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