No one mistakes us for weaklings. "Strong, Black woman" is said so much it's almost our name. And you can find a million and one of us shoving our tits in the world's face or our cracks. You can find a few of us with true beauty (I'd put Angela Bassett at the top of that list). But where are our smart sisters?
Until we start glorifying and praising our smart sisters and letting the young see that smart gets praised, smart gets noticed, we're not presenting a range of images from which a little girl can choose.
So one of the things I like about Loretta Ross is that she's a smart Black woman. In Betty's area (Atlanta, Georgia -- and I checked with Betty and told her what I wanted to write and she said, "Grab it, Marcia!" -- before someone says, "Uh, she's stepping on Betty's ground!) a rabid anti-choice effort was springing up, attempting to become grassroots. Loretta and her friends in Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective fought a hard and, yes, smart battle which she recounts at ZNet. For me, this is the most important passage:
Anti-abortionists misused data and facts. The cornerstone of their genocide theory is that black women have had fewer children over a number of years. In fact, women of all races have fewer children when they have increased access to reproductive health services and educational and job opportunities.
The reality is that black women have always controlled our fertility when we could. We brought knowledge from Africa that helped us practice birth control and have abortions. After the end of slavery, we were determined to end the forced breeding of our bodies, and we cut our birth rate in half in the first 40 years after the Civil War. We continued this intentional decline as part of our racial uplift strategy to have fewer children and provide more opportunities for the ones we did have.
Black women, however, do have three times more abortions than white women, a statistic anti-abortionists used to demonize abortion providers. Black women have more unintended pregnancies, less access to contraception, are more vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse, and experience single motherhood more than our white counterparts. For reproductive justice activists, the solution is to help black women have fewer unintended pregnancies and to eliminate the obstacles that interfere with personal decision making.
Another anti-abortion tactic is to claim that abortion clinics are "always" located in African American communities, especially by Planned Parenthood. In Georgia, we were able to easily refute this claim by presenting demographic data, proving that only four of the 15 abortion clinics in our state are in predominantly black neighborhoods.
We addressed the story of Margaret Sanger and her allegedly racist agenda. We documented that African American leaders had worked with Sanger in the 1930s to ask for clinics in black communities. We challenged our opponents' historical revisionism by citing famous leaders like Mary McLeod Bethune, W.E.B. Dubois, Walter White, Mary Church Terrell, Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and organizations like the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women. We dared them to call these icons of the civil rights movement pawns of a racist agenda.
I've had it with the anti-choice efforts to paint us stupid women. I applaud Loretta Ross and her friends for standing up with the facts. We make choices, we're not stupid. We smart women and once a week I'm going to try to highlight a smart Black woman. I don't know that White women or Latinas have it any easier -- this is a society that values looks over everything else for women -- but I just want to find a way to do my part to show us as more than booty-shaking Beyonce or whatever. (Beyonce is surely a smart woman. But that's not what's emphasized about her.)
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"