There is nothing more real than real life. I am not talking here about the staged reality of “reality tv” either. I am talking about the the real life drama that people go through, the struggles, pains, deaths and sometimes, hopefully, the eventual triumphs that makes a life.
This is why I am fascinated by autobiographies and biographies. They are inspirational. We can debate all day on the most effective strategies to employ to overcome, but those who fight to live, not just to survive, find the way to overcome.
I read an article on the above autobiography of Tim Brannigan at Afro-Europe Blog. It’s the story of a mixed race black man who was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Here is an indepth article about him. This is a definite addition to my (constantly growing) reading list.
Excellent article at The Black Love Speak Column. Although I am sharing it here, I encourage comments to be made also at the original article.
If you live in Atlanta, Macon, or Augusta GA, you may have come across one of these signs.
Black & Unwanted billboards are springing up in various areas of Georgia. The Radiance Foundation and Georgia’s Operation Outrage have joined forces to encourage Black women to stop having abortions and to encourage Black couples to adopt black children. When I first heard about the website toomanyaborted.com, I had my own opinions. I am a strong advocate for women’s rights. And I have to admit, I didn’t really give their initiative the time of day. It infuriated me. The billboards along Georgia highways upset me even more. However, upon putting my frustration aside, I realized that they may have a few points to their argument.
Let me first say that I believe in woman’s right to decide what to do with her body. Yet, the fact that there has been a historical attack on Black life for the past few hundred years is ever present. The Eugenics movement is very real. There are those out there that are trying to create a prototype for the “perfect” human gene pool and for many, Black isn’t a part of it. Scientists, corporations, and governments have attempted/ are attempting to increase particular human characteristics while decreasing others. How can this be accomplished? By reproducing more of what is “wanted” and discarding more of what is “unwanted”. As a result, Black women have been sterilized unknowingly. Black men have been castrated. Black babies have been killed in the name of science. All of this is true. I do believe there is a movement to eradicate Black people, especially when we stand in the way of capitalist gain.
For example, Africa has been swarming with NGOs advocating safe sex through the usage of condoms. While condoms may protect against HIV/AIDS, it could also affect population growth. This is interesting, because the conversation then turns to the “Africa is over populated” rhetoric. This is completely untrue but it’s being said in an effort (I believe but could be wrong) to decrease the amount of children born to African mothers. Africa is the richest continent on the planet in terms of natural resources. Yet, many of these natural resources such as oil, gold, cocoa, fish, diamonds, tanzanite, coltane, and much more, are controlled by European countries/corporations and world powers (the U.S. included). Even though there is enough food in all of Africa to feed all the people of Africa and more, the capitalist mode of production within this neocolonial era has made it so that these resources are unattainable to many African people. This control was obtained through slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism. African people are fighting to gain back the control over their natural resources. Wouldn’t you think that this fight would be easier for global corporations if less Africans were in the world? This is why I question the theories behind the beginning of HIV/AIDS.
What does this have to do with Black women and Abortions?
Well, if you are Black, even if the world calls you Latino or American, the African descent or DNA that runs through your veins is often the ultimate prevailer in determining your socioeconomic status in the world. If you look around, you will find that almost everywhere you go in the world Black/African lives are secondary to others in society. We are often the ones that suffer the most and die first. Many times these are needless, easily preventable deaths or illnesses. Yet, somehow, there is always a mysterious issue in solving these problems. This, I think, is not a coincidence. Indeed Black is unwanted except when Black life is used for hard labor or for entertainment purposes. Ironically, in both fields Black life is used, exploited, and then discarded after use.
Therefore, because of the history of Eugenics in the U.S. and abroad, I do not completely disagree with the sentiments of the Radiance Foundation. There are people out there that do not want Black life to grow and prosper. However, I do not believe that attacking the reproductive rights of Black women is the answer to fighting Eugenics. This is because there are many factors that surround any Black woman’s discussion to get an abortion. The reason why there is a higher rate of abortion among Black women than other races is because of higher poverty rates. Maybe we should be looking more into poverty and trying to alleviate poverty in black communities. The fight then becomes against the true source of higher abortions rates instead of against Black women.
Black women also face a lot of scrutiny when we become pregnant that other races do not face. If we become pregnant out of wedlock we are the dreaded “baby mama”. If we have a baby that we cannot financially take care of without government assistance, we are labeled as “irresponsible lazy welfare Queens”. If we take the father of the child to court for child support, we are “bringing a brotha down.” If we get pregnant by different men, we are a “Whore/Ho”. If we give the child up for adoption, we are uncaring mothers. If we choose not to go through with the pregnancy, we are labeled as abortion sluts.
We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t!
Furthermore, a woman’s body may not be ready to handle the effects of another pregnancy. She may not have the financial ability to take care of a child (in which case adoption could be an option). She may not be mentally stable enough to go through with a pregnancy. Some of you may be thinking, “Well she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant”. This is the sentiment of some Black women. And I understand where you’re coming from. But this is a decision that you should have to make for your own body. If I were to come along and force you to give birth without your consent, how would you feel? This is the experience of our Great Great Grandmothers.
On plantations, many of them were raped and forced to give birth over and over again against their will. These rapes, along with the forced child births, wreaked havoc on their bodies and spirits. We know live under different circumstances. Fortunately, we can now determine for ourselves. This is why I am reluctant to fully support the efforts of the Radiance Foundation and Georgia’s Operation Outrage. I do not wish to teeter between the lines of force and choice. I will always be for choice.
However, I do agree with them in that choices should always be made in conjunction with full knowledge of what we are doing, so that we make the correct decisions for our lives. Abortion is not always the best choice. There are black women experiencing medical problems, mental anxiety, and depression in conjunction with the abortion/s they had. This is a decision that should not be taken lightly and should be accompanied with knowledge in order to prevent this from happening.
I also support their efforts to encourage adoption in the Black community. I find that we get upset about white people adopting black children yet we do not take on the obligation to take care of these children ourselves.
Whew…that was a lot of writing! What do you think? Should black women stop getting abortions? Do you agree or disagree with the Radiance Foundation?
I read this story over at my yawdie’s place, The Field Negro, about a (White) woman who decided to give up her (Black) adopted son after several months.
“The first time I considered giving up D. I was lying alone in my oversized bed. It was about midnight, my children were asleep and my husband was deployed. I was so taken aback by my thoughts that I bolted upright, ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. It was dark, but I could see my silhouette in the mirror and I stared to see if I was looking at a demon instead of D.’s mother.” Read the rest of the story here.
We live in a disposable world. Our senses are bombarded everyday with stories and images of how governments, rebels, insurgents, terrorists… featuring the “Browns and Blacks” of this planet… casually dispose of each other. We watch and read about how at home… whether that home is in America, Europe and even Canada… similar “Browns and Blacks” are disposed of in a variety of ways, by the hands of their own or by the agents of the State. We watch and read… being almost deaf, blind and numb to these incidents… as our main concerns are focused on acquiring more, and more, and more… of our hearts’ desires.
However, we place no lasting intrinsic value on anything we have been blessed to acquire into lives, including people. Regardless of how easy or difficult it has been to acquire, we dispose of things and people even easier. Relationships, marriages and anything else which we valued at one time but now consider to be garbage, is now easily separated and placed into it’s proper bin for disposal and recycling… and some else picks it up for us on it’s specified date… and our lives continues uninterrupted.
My wife and I are in the process of adopting a daughter and sister to our (biological) son. We have always wanted to adopt a child and we decided to wait until we had our first child, and then adopt one of the opposite gender. I will admit the process is a lot more involved than I had anticipated. I thought it would be easy to adopt, as we sincerely want to… and have the resources to… provide a loving and stable home for an “unwanted” child. We have gone to a number of informational sessions in regards to domestic and international adoptions. The one thing that has stuck with me is the words of one of the counselors that impressed upon us that once you adopt a child, it’s no longer about you! Once that child enters into your care, their well-being is now your primary responsibility and you must be committed to deal with “the good, the bad and the ugly”. They are not disposable, like a family pet that is returned to the pound after a few months because no one wants to be bothered to care for it.
What disgusts (and I do mean “disgust!”) me most about this story, is how according to this woman, “after waiting many long months” to “finally hold and kiss my son”, it took only “several weeks” for her to dispose of him… put him out to be “recycled” by another (albeit better) family. Her depiction of how her own 5 daughters… Baby D’s sisters… were more attached to Spongebob… a cartoon character… than to acknowledging the imminent loss of “their brother”, says to me that they also learnt to consider him to be disposable like the trash they easily put out once a week and never give a second thought.
On the surface it may appear that I am criticizing or condemning the actions of this woman or her family, but in reality that is not my intent. This is not about her, although I did find that her article is all about her and her feelings. This is also not about her family. It’s about ‘Baby D’ and other children like him, who become innocent victims, (who have already been victimized I will add), of our society’s addiction to acquiring the latest fad, the “newest” and “coolest” trinket, without any true appreciation of its actual value.
Although we may not be able to afford the expensive material things or have the glamorous lifestyle of our beloved celebrities such as Brangelina or Madonna, in this way we can be like them. We can acquire people like they can… little Brown and Black people… who come cheap and are fortunate that a White American family wants to own them, so they can be added to the collection of “stuff” to show off to families, friends, neighbors and strangers… until the thrill wears off and reality sets in. Then comes garbage day.