As Black Communities are targeted by the Christian Right with billboards that equate abortion with genocide, Joy of Resistance will invite prominent Black members of the Christian Right onto our airwaves to debate Black defenders of Reproductive Justice–and will challenge their narrative on abortion rights for Black women.
Guests will be Catherine Davis, of Georgia Right–To-Life, an initiator of the billboard campaign equating abortion with genocide, Reverend Dr. Alethea Smith-Withers of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Dr. Freda Bush, a promoter of Abstinence-Only Education and a spokesperson for the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi, Michelle Colon, an organizer with the National Organization for Women who led the fight against the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi. The show will include The Feminist News, music – and your input via Twitter at twitter.com/joyofresistance. This show will be hosted by Joy of Resistance Co-Producer Maretta Short and Jasmine Burnett, Founding Member and National Mobilization Chair of the Trust Black Women Partnership, along with Fran Luck, Executive Producer of Joy of Resistance.
Background: “Active Voice: Black Women and Abortion” (A Statement by Jasmine Burnett)
While the Christian Right trumpets messages to confuse and shame Black women, Black women are not confused about needing access to abortion services. Yet, there are Black women who themselves are spokespersons and leaders in extremist right wing organizations that work to blame Black women and shame our decisions. Hundreds of pieces of anti-choice legislation are being introduced on the local, state and federal levels with claims that attempt to justify limits in access to healthcare and contraception, safety net programs, and maintaining systems of order that do not serve the reality of women’s lives.
Reproductive Justice, a human rights framework that addresses the issues behind the abortion statistics and other health disparities, understands that women’s families and the decisions about their lives are varied and must be respected. This conversation is not an attempt to change the minds of the anti-choice community, but to bring a discussion that is happening around women to our listeners who count on us to bring radical feminist voices to the forefront on challenging the conservative discourse. We must be fearless and bold in our fight for liberation and equality and use our active voices and TRUST BLACK WOMEN to make the best decisions for our lives and our families. We ask all to stand WITH us for Reproductive Justice.
“The Right to Choose Legal Abortion in the Black Community” (A Statement by Maretta Short)
Retrospectively, a woman’s right to choose to have a legal abortion has not been an issue in the Black Community since leaders of Black women’s organizations such as Dorothy Height and Delores C. Tucker, who, in 1990 along with fifteen other African American women and men, formed African American Women for Reproductive Freedom. The fifteen members who signed on were: Byllye Avery, Willie Barrow, Donna Brazile, Shirley Chisolm, Cardiss Collins, Ramona Edelin, Jacqui Gillespie, Dorothy Height, Jewel Jackson McCabe, Julianne Malveaux, Eleanor Holmes Norton, C. DeloresTucker, Patricia Tyson, Maxine Waters, and Faye Wattleton. They wanted to show support for the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. They became concerned about the high rate of infant mortality, the lack of access to healthcare for Black women and the high rate of deaths among young black girls who were having back-alley, life threatening, illegal abortions. This is what prompted our Black leaders to encourage the establishment of reproductive healthcare clinics in the Black community in order to provide Black women and girls with access to health education, healthcare, pre-natal care and legal abortions. And, most of our Black legislators, both male and female, have raised their voices in support for all women’s reproductive rights.
However, today is a new day. Legal abortion and a woman’s right to choose has remained a national controversial issue and has been under attack in the United States since the 1973 Roe decision. But despite the fact that all women are under attack, it is obvious that the Christian Right and conservatives are directly targeting Black women–which provokes many questions–that almost go unaddressed in the Black community, such as: Why would prominent Black female conservatives like Dr. Freda Bush, Alveda King (Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece), or Catherine Davis, want to do anything at all to weaken the 14th amendment, after all the lives lost to bring it forward for their freedom? Shouldn’t African American women and other Women of Color be able to maintain their Fourteenth Amendment rights to privacy and to make decisions regarding their own bodies? Should they be able to choose if they want to be pregnant or not? Should they be reduced to second-class citizenship again? Should they allow someone else to make a decision regarding their bodies without their permission? Should they plead ignorance and keep silent about erosion of their Constitutional rights? Or should they take a stand for justice and equality in order to speak out against the actions being taken against them? Is what freedom fighter, Fannie Lou Hamer said decades ago–that “A Black woman’s body is never hers alone.” still true?
About our show and WBAI:
Joy of Resistance: Multicultural Feminist Radio @ WBAI airs on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month, between 9 and 10 PM. We cover the ongoing worldwide struggle of women for full equality and human rights. You can contact us at email@example.com or leave a phone message at (212) 209-2987. You can “tweet” us at twitter.com/joyofresistnace and visit our NEW BLOG @ joyofresistance.wordpress.com. Programs stream live at http://www.wbai.org where they are also archived for 90 days. WBAI broadcasts to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and is part of the Pacifica Radio Network, one of the few alternatives to the corporate-controlled media that dominate the airwaves–but it needs your financial support to continue broadcasting. Please consider going to http://www.wbai.org and contributing whatever amount you can to help keep alternative radio alive. When you support WBAI during Joy of Resistance fund-drive programs you are also supporting the continuation of feminist programming at the station.Thank you for your support.