Friday, March 5, 2010

Shaming Black Women Will Not Reduce Abortion

Yesterday, I was just getting in as Destruction was getting off of the school bus.  He can up the front stairs and gave me a big hug and a kiss.  It was then I realised that the top of his head is already at my chin.  I looked down and asked him if he wanted a baba (bottle) or a dewie (pacifer) and he looked at me and laughed with everything he had.  Not that very long ago, I was clapping wildly as he took his first steps and playing patty cake.   My baby is no longer a baby.  In May he will be nine years old and I cannot believe that so much time has passed already. 

He is a very bright, loving, sensitive child and has truly been one of the greatest blessings of my life. He is my most precious love. That said, raising him has not always been easy.  I have struggled to make him aware of his privileges while letting him enjoy the innocence of childhood.  I have fought the urge to wrap him in a protective bubble, even as he pulls away from me to make his own friends and have his own adventures.  I miss the days when he could sit in my lap and I miss carrying him in my arms.

I have a very supportive partner, who is absolutely dedicated to this family.  He takes great pride and pleasure in our little boys.  When the four of us are together at the dinner table chatting about our day, I feel content and secure.  Everyone I love most in this world is together and happy.   This is the kind of happiness that I wish for others and yet I am highly aware that it is not the case for many.

I have given a lot of thought to the recent campaign from pro-life advocates using race based arguments to attempt to deter a woman’s right to choose.  These ads give the impression that Black women don’t know what it is to love and cherish a child and I personally find the whole idea abhorrent. The fact of the matter is, that our motherhood has never been respected.  Our love has never been validated.  Even today, children are ripped from the arms of mothers whose only crime is being poor, Black and female in this world. Though my family is very stable, this is a nightmare that still haunts me.  What if my circumstances should change?  What would that mean for me and my precious little boys?

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Better than many, we now what it is to love a child because we do so in the face of much social discipline.  We are called welfare queens and our reproduction is used to sully our status as women.  A Black single mother with more than one child is not a respected person in society; she is a drain on the system, a whore whom we hold nothing but contempt for.  Even when we are in established relationships and hold professional jobs, we are still attacked for our fertility.   When FOX news called Michelle Obama, Baracks baby mama, what did that say to the world, but that we are irresponsible breeders?

We don’t need pro-life groups to further shame us regarding reproduction.  Black women are highly aware of what is at stake because even before we can leave our childhood behind us, society has already marked, trained, and disciplined us into believing that we are of little worth.  This is not some new social phenomenon; it has been a part of our existence for centuries.

They implore us to love the Black child, but who do think spent endless nights weeping in slave cabins because our children were sold away from us?  Who do they think has been working multiple jobs to support these children that Black men routinely walk away from?  Who do they think looks into the face of hatred, cooks, cleans, battles racist teachers and sleeps with one eye open to ensure that Black children have the best possible chance at life?  If anyone will love the Black child it is hir mother.

There are better ways to reduce abortion than shaming Black women but because we have become so accustomed to attacking Black womanhood at every turn, positive support seems impossible for many to envision.  Where is their call to offer more support to women who choose to carry a pregnancy through to term?  Where are their programs to help single mothers get an education?  Where are their plans to organize for socialized daycare? Where is their struggle to promote good and informative sex education?  Black women don’t need to be told how precious Black children are because we have been supporting and loving them from the beginning of time.  What we need are real and concrete measures to make our motherhood more viable.  What we need is the respect that society seems determined to deny us.

I will spend my day playing with my little guy and covering him with kisses when he will let me.  I will be attentive to his needs and seize upon every opportunity I have to teach him.  He will feel safe and he will feel loved and this is because he has a Black mother who cherishes her child. When my oldest returns home, it will be into my arms he rushes as he quickly spills the details of his day.  My children are safe and they are loved because they have a Black mother who cherishes her children.  It is insulting to suggest that we who live the life do not know what it is at stake, but then when has Black motherhood ever been appreciated by anyone, except our children who know first hand of our struggles?