Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The battle hymn of a dangerous black woman…


I am a black woman.

I am your enemy if you seek to oppress me and mine.

I am dangerous as hell if you seek power through my oppression.

I am suspect if you fear someone who does not actively seek to be like you, to please you, or to give you strength through my submission.

I am something to be feared if you fear the empowerment of others.

I am - unbought, unbossed, and unashamed.

Reproductive justice didn’t happen to me. 

Fighting for the right to determine whether to have children, to raise the children we have, and to raise our families in communities free of violence and oppression…all of that wasn’t done to black women. 

All of that was and is done with black women, by black women for black women.

We are of this movement. 

Always have been.

Always will be.

So reproductive justice didn’t happen to me.

I am reproductive justice.

And you know and I know that you know that I know that you cannot advocate on behalf of black women if you do not trust black women.

But some will try.

A campaign is afoot.

A campaign that would define black women as genocidal…that claims that black children are a separate species that is endangered in the hands of black women…and that seeks to divide and conquer through the tired old tactic of blaming and shaming women in general and black women specifically.

Those who place racist billboards in our communities want to talk about dangerous places.

Okay…let’s talk about dangerous places.

Let’s talk about the infant mortality rate in America…about the lot of the born…about how each year having an infant that lives past the first year of life becomes more and more a privilege for the few and an expectation determined by race rather than a right of the masses. And let’s talk about how the stereotype of bad black mothers fuels the acceptance of high infant mortality rates just like it fuels the acceptance of low employment rates, low graduation rates and racial profiling.

As if all that is our due.

As if all that is to be expected.

Let’s talk about health care disparities…about how the same motherfuckers shouting about life vote against life saving programs and rally against expanding access to health care.

Let’s chat about how black women are more likely to lack access to cancer screenings, more likely to have a delayed cancer diagnosis, and more likely to die because of it.

And let’s talk about why funding for programs that provide low cost cancer screenings is under attack, why health care programs that serve poor women are under attack and why the some of the same people who chastise black women who do not breast feed won’t do a damn thing to help protect the breast health of a black woman.

Let’s talk about the lack of access to pre-natal care…the low birth weight of infants born into poverty…about how so many families struggle to provide diapers for their infants that there are multiple national campaigns trying to meet that need.

Let’s talk about prevention…and how that’s such an unpopular word.  Let’s talk about how some see the wages of sex as illness, suffering and death…about how the same people protesting at the clinic can’t be bothered to baby sit at the shelter for homeless teen mother less than a block away.  And let’s talk about those shelters…about how there are so many of them in St. Louis city…about the amazing women who live there and about the lack of funding for programs that help their families out. Let’s talk about the waiting lists at those shelters…about the sisters who get turned away…about the children who go to sleep hungry and wake up hungry and go to school hungry and walk back home to go to sleep hungry again.

Let’s talk about lies. 

About how the Missouri legislature passed a law mandating that women who seek abortion services must be told that there are programs to help them with housing and child care and education if they choose to continue their pregnancy…about how those programs are the same programs the legislature cut funding for while they mocked those who needed those services on the floor of the people’s house.

Let’s talk about black babies born to black mothers who are shackled during labor.

Let’s talk about the removal of comprehensive sex education from our schools and how our young people enter adulthood with the abstinence only advice to put a quarter between their legs and squeeze.

Let’s talk about how the debate over life ends at birth…about the young women I’ve met who chose to have a baby only to find that the same people praising them for that decision won’t hire them, don’t want them moving into their neighborhood, will one day grab their handbag and lock their car door when that black baby becomes a black man who walks by them on the sidewalk.  

But I don’t get to just "talk" about all that.

I’m a black woman - I live it.

I get to walk into a health care center to a shower of shouts from white men charging that I’m a race traitor, that I’m participating in black genocide, and that I bring shame upon black America…anti-choice activists who have been emboldened by a campaign that feeds right into the racism that lives just beneath the surface, that opportunistic infection that feeds off of billboard campaigns spouting rhetoric that backs up what they already hold true – that black women are lesser than, dangerous, inferior, lacking in humanity, unhinged, untrustworthy, reckless…

That black woman = violent.

I am a black woman.

That black woman = bad mother.

I am a black woman.

That black woman = sex object.

I am a black woman.

That black woman = irresponsible.

I am a black woman.

That black women are a problem.

I am a black woman.

That black women are unfit.

I am a black woman.

And so black women must be…wait for it…oppressed for our own good.

But...I AM A BLACK WOMAN.

The most dangerous place for my rights is in the hands of my oppressor.

And the most dangerous place for oppression is in my angry black hands.

Trust.

46 comments:

Maureen O'Danu said...

Shark-fu, have I told you lately how much I love you? I was lying in bed, reading on my phone, and found this post, so I had to drag myself up, go to the computer and respond, because This. Is. Beautiful.

I wrote my own rant on the subject yesterday but of course 1) I'm not a black woman, and 2) You're a better writer than I am, so you got to it so much better than I could. Thank you. Thank you.

JeninCanada said...

Thank you for this. Word.

Amadi said...

The only thing I could imagine being added to this is the fact that we as Black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications when we do choose to bear children. And that's four times more likely across all socioeconomic lines and regardless of insurance type and level of prenatal care.

Attempting to remove choice, to take away our control over our childbearing, is even more of a matter of life and death to Black women. Having babies is killing us at repulsive, tremendously unacceptable rates. We must cling tenaciously to every tool we have to protect ourselves given our medical system's utter failure to do so.

LisaMJ said...

Testify!

Joie said...

Standing Ovation.

Anonymous said...

Amen.

Kristin Craig Lai said...

So well said. When I see or hear about this shameful campaign I think about the fact that the maternal death rate for black women is at least three times higher than for white women.

If these protesters really cared about black women and their children they would be doing something about that.

MamzerHakodesh said...

Word.

MamzerHakodesh said...

Word.

Jaelithe said...

This is one of the best posts you have written.

Twain said...

I"m a white female, mother and grandmother. This is a righteous rant and I applaud not only your feelings but your writing. Thanks for always speaking out.

gaydem said...

Hear, hear!! This SO needs to be linkable to Facebook!

Gabrielle said...

I'm not a black woman, either, but I am a woman of color, and I love, love, love this rant. You are amazing.

catnmus said...

Wow, this is amazing! You rock, as always.

cat carter said...

Oh, my dear, dear sister. You read my heart and spoke so clearly words that I couldn't have formed better. Be blessed, sister, for all that you do and write and say.

J9 said...

You are a black woman, and we all love you for fighting the fight, for being on the front lines, for not giving up or giving in. Thank you Shark Fu, Thank-you!

goddessjaz said...

You're an inspiration...thank you for your fearless and fierce words. You articulate so beautifully many things that I (and so many us) feel. It's so easy to be frustrated and disgusted with legislators, religious zealots & spin doctors but this flips it and reminds me that we are warriors and we will win.

macnow said...

Shark Fu… some heart and soul definitely went into this post of yours.

Being a white guy stuck in mid Ohio, it gals me to no end to know who those individuals and types are. Although over the years I have been losing more friends (were they ever really?) because I can’t keep my mouth shut when they preach their hate; but its post like this that steel my resolve.

“Let’s talk about how some see the wages of sex as illness, suffering and death…about how the same people protesting at the clinic can’t be bothered to baby sit at the shelter for homeless teen mother less than a block away.”

That one nails it to the wall.

OH… and when these various groups drag out the “one” they did take in (for social marketing purposes), it’s a tragic human circus unfolding in front of your eyes; that is then charitably saved by the almighty white ones with the almighty chip-shit on their shoulder, which then they are going to make you witness and see the great miracle they (and only they) have helped bring about… just pure evil; no god, no faith, just plain old predatory chimp behavior.

So to the BUBBA and BUBBETTES; this isn’t about your religious views… this SHIT is about your misogynistic racist views period! Conflating the three ain’t going to justify the last two, never… never.. ever!

And to all the women that gain power by thrusting abuse down upon women less fortunate, hiding behind an abusive mysognistic husband, with a false veil of religion to justify such hate…

well words do not even begin to describe the horror you inflict.

“I get to walk into a health care center to a shower of shouts from white men charging that I’m a race traitor, that I’m participating in black genocide, and that I bring shame upon black America…”

This is SO important, because this isn’t some grassroots uprising these people are partaking in… this is a carefully crafted strategy, not carved in preacher’s offices, but the bedrooms and boardrooms of the fucks that are running our country, and the wannabe lackeys that do their dirty work.

WEDGE issue, WEDGE issue, WEDGE issue… followed by
DIVIDE and conquer, DIVIDE and conquer, DIVIDE and conquer.


AND then there is little Shark Fu…

laying down the truth (liked or not)!

standing in the cold (resolute and determined)!

inspiring in the darkest moments (and Gawd knows she is so tired)!

fist held high (fierce and proud)!


Man… my utter most respect, period.


Now were is my local shelter… I’m late to help this week.

D. said...

This is sooo powerful!

I will be linking to this as soon as I have enough of a brain to post.

brian said...

Shark Fu, you hit that nail right on the head!
Ohio, where I live, has a "heartbeat" law in the works.
This is a crime.Not just against women, but against us all.
This is everyone's fight.
Everyone who believes in justice.

DaisyDeadhead said...

What everyone else said.

But one more thing: You're a *great* writer, Ms Shark. :)

sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

Shark-fu,
Thank you for this on a day when I am feeling despairing and hopeless, for reminding me of power and passion, of the luxury of despair that we cannot afford. Every word was beautiful and true and like a paean to my soul. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being and for fighting.

RachelB said...

Shark-fu, thank you for this post. I have a friend who is pro-choice but only when it comes to voting, who doesn't understand why I get so upset about parental notification laws, about mandatory waiting periods, about CPCs being allowed to masquerade as actual health-care facilities, about de-funding Planned Parenthood.

This post articulates why I get so upset. Because we don't all have the same access to affordable and safe reproductive health care. Nor the same risks. Nor the same social support. And that is not right at all.

Anonymous said...

This is the crux of the argument. "Let’s talk about health care disparities…about how the same motherfuckers shouting about life vote against life saving programs and rally against expanding access to health care."

They vote nay every single time something comes up that is actually for life. They are hateful. Full of hate and pretty evil.

Maureen O'Danu said...

Jaelithe: And that's a high bar, because ABB is an awesome writer on her worst day.

ABB -- mind if I do an linky type post back to you? I don't have much to add, just want to give credit where credit is due.

Phoenix said...

I hate, hate, hate when the protesters start spouting off about 'black genocide'. When I escorted over at Hope Clinic they said some of the most racist things I've ever heard, and it hurt to hear it every time. I can only imagine how the patients feel. They're not as vicious at PP, but their words are deliberately used to cut down and hurt the women who come there needing help.
I'm not a vindictive person, but those protesters make me hope that karma exists.

Prosey said...

Beautiful!

Thinking on those billboards...have you seen the latest with the stylized image of Obama?!

*muttering*

Of all the disingenuous, racist garbage that the pro-liar movement is continuing to pull. :(

Roz B said...

I love this, and I am posting a link to this blog everywhere I can.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It makes me think about the lives of the library patrons I see daily, the families I serve at my restaurant, and my cousins. Your testimony is a blessing and a challenging call to action!!! -Davey-

Shark-fu said...

Thanks all!

Maureen - link away!

Cynematic said...

STANDING. OVATION.

TheRYL1 said...

Oh, you snatched your words right from my heart! I'm a Black woman and yes, I LIVE this daily.

I'm sitting here at my desk with tears running down my face; they are both happy & pissed off tears! Happy to see what I've felt in my bones put into words...Pissed off because it's so true.

"Let’s talk about health care disparities…about how the same motherfuckers shouting about life vote against life saving programs and rally against expanding access to health care."

WORD!

mr pinky said...

Well said! Perhaps you would consider contacting your local public radio station, and putting the power of your voice and your truth to these words over the air.

Joy said...

this made me shiver.

NancyP said...

Wow!

BTW, remember when PP tried to make "common ground" with a local anti-abortion group to form a jointly sponsored adoption agency. The anti-abortion group pulled out in a year, when it became apparent that the group of women referred from PP had "too many hard-to-place babies", as the newspaper euphemism put it. That left PP footing the entire bill, and the agency closed after 2 or 3 years because it was sucking up too much money needed for providing health care, the main mission. The unwed mothers' homes and other support for women considering giving their newborn up for adoption have been and still are white only. The operators of the homes view the homes as businesses wanting to get top dollar for their "product".

MarkOH said...

This white male from Ohio wants to give you a standing ovation. I agree with the other posters - this should be published somewhere. I applaud your heartfelt sincerity and will stand with you against such oppression.

And thank you. This is one of the most wonderful statements I have seen in a long time.

Anonymous said...

In Chicago they are putting up billboards in black communities which state something like every 12seconds one of our future leaders is aborted. This is insane. If they want these babies so badly then they need to pay for them once they are here. This is the reality. People shouldn't be forced to have kids they don't want or can't afford. First they attack women for aborting of they want to, then attack them for being single parents if this becomes the case. It is a no win situation. Why aren't men being forced to stand up to their obligations. I am tired of them opting out and that is one of the biggest issues here. Men are opting out.

Rosanne said...

All I can say is WOW. You have said it all. Across all ages, professions, levels of education, and location. It still is in play.

Huda said...

beautifully written and an anthem against all 'anti-abortion, so-called pro-life bullshitters. Now if we can only put it into a beat and spin it in a youtube video with millions of viewers!

Peterr said...

Preach it, sister!

"The most dangerous place for my rights is in the hands of my oppressor."

That is some seriously righteous diagnosis of the disease that is increasingly infecting not only Missouri but our nation.

I am amazed and appalled by the attitude of some on the right that says "you can have various rights only insofar as I grant them to you."

The most dangerous place for your oppressor is to be found trying to hold on to your rights. Go get 'em, Shark-fu!

stopthemadness said...

fuck yeah!

that is all.

Xander Mac said...

Heard about that anti-choice campaign aimed at black women in America - nasty guilt-mongering shit by people who have probably never set foot at the intersections those billboards are erected at.

So, being on benefits is like winning the MF lottery, is it? Being lectured about money management by the elites - always a pre-revolutionary moment, isn't it?

Assholes.

Glad to hear there's an articulate, angry opposition to the opposition.

Alex
(a white guy in Canada)

Paula said...

Well said. Sad, scary, but brilliant.

Jacquie J said...

My daughter posted your battle hymn to my wall. I don't know you, but please know that your words resonated all the way to DC. Amazing. I could not dream of speaking those same points so eloquently or fiercely.

Oh...and I'm about to drop some cash in your store, too. Maybe those beagles can get a little kibble with love from DC!

Shark-fu said...

Jacquie - wow and thank you!