For Immediate Release: "the most dangerous place for an African American child is in the Womb"-really?
On February, 22nd in Soho New York City, a billboard went up stating "the most dangerous place for an African American child is in the Womb". More disturbing than the statement was the stereotypical image of a little African American girl with an afro and a pink bow in her hair.
On February 23, me and my co-worker received a phone call from Bronx News 12 asking us if we had an opinion as a local women's grassroots organization and at 2pm we where on the news. Below you will find our comments and statement as the only women of color organization in the South Bronx that is left after this economic crisis.
Casa Atabex Ache is in outrage but not surprised by white people and their institutional tactics to strategically use Black History Month as a launch for such a racist attack on women's bodies. I mean kick us when we are down, major economic crisis impacting our communities and families, and kick us during a time when a much bigger attack is being waged, the war on our reproductive health, choice, autonomy and self determination. With funding cuts to our health care system, womens non profit organizations closing and poverty on the rise what a better time to creep into the cracks of an already doubtful and stressed community.
In oder to understand the impact of this billboard we need to understand the reproductive health history of women of color and contextualize it within a race , class and gender analysis, hence the billboard is both racist and sexist, not to mention the damage it is doing to young women and girls who need to see this. 500 years of indigenous resistance and 400 years of women of color fighting for choice comes to a halting stop and makes you question if for just one minute where has it all gone wrong and how far have we really come?
In a face book note after her interview: my co-worker Toyin Adebanjo states "yes this billboard is very real. Channel 12 the Bronx came to my organization today to get our response to this white supremacist and patriarchal bill board. The real issue is that as a person of color it is dangerous to live in the United States of america. With all these new laws criminalizing documented and undocumented folks of color, with police everywhere and all the jobs being cut. They don,t want us to make it here."
This billboard went up as a direct result of the Gop's War on Women this year.
1. They are defunding the healthcare reform, getting rid of preventive and primary medicine. so they make money off you when you are sick, getting rid of major institutions federal funding like planned parenthood who provide not just abortion services but health care locally and internationally.
2. They are getting rid of small non-profits funding to do preventive medicine, wellness reproductive health eduction and organizing.
3. With bill HR 1 the gop in south dakota are moving to expand the definition of justifiable homicide and killing abortion providers with bill 1171.
4. They are changing the definition of rape to limit or eliminate abortions .
5. In South Dakota a bill has been proposed to make it legal to kill a doctor who provides abortions.
too name a few...
This bill board is a public health and human rights issue visually letting us know there is alot of work to do for the generation of women that is here now and the ones to come. The organization that put this up is a Texas non-profit group called "Life Always", of course, Bush is back! They say that their original intent for putting up this billboard was to bring about dialogue during black history month because statistic from the NYC Health Department say that Blacks had the highest number of abortions in 2009, with 40,798. (Hispanics had the second highest at 28,364.) and that Planned Parenthood reported nearly 17,000 abortions in 2010.This was also part of a national campaign where Life Always compares abortion to genocide and terrorism. "There is a battle being waged in the United States that has taken more lives than any foreign war or act of terrorism. The enemy is abortion."
While the statistics above might be true, one they leave out the undocumented abortions and the abortions that are made by undocumented women that don't have health insurance or make it to the hospital. Secondly, numbers tell the real story because they are not contextualized with the political, social and economic climate of an individuals life. Third, it leaves it up to people for interpretation and fourth, true accountability never happens, usually the individual is blamed for her behavior. In addition, statistics never get to the root problem of health disparities and inequalities in our community.
With that said, women no matter what should always have choice, this includes equal health care options, including preventative, spiritual, holistic and cultural services, family planning services and education so that she can have agency to make the best informed decision with dignity. In order for this to happen we must continue to fight to end violence against women, advocate for funding to start or own institutions and non profits, create gender equality in education and jobs and continue to bring women into the political discussion of their lives.
Casa Atabex Ache -"Women are experts of their lives all they need are safe spaces to convene, build sisterhood and heal".
In conclusion, on February 25th, the 3 story billboard was taken down. But I'm afraid the damage has already been done. What will that little girls say or think 10 or 15 years from now, what will she think about her body, who she is and how will she heal from its impact?
For more information link below