Friday, April 15, 2011

And now these fools want to chat...

The placement of a race-baiting billboard in St. Louis city has triggered outrage, disgust, and the sad but typical defense from those who oppose reproductive rights that this appalling ad is somehow necessary to properly “educate” black people about…well, black people.


Shall we?

The billboard in question, located at 25th and Cass, was recently vandalized. Clearly the message on the billboard is appalling. That is why people are calling for the owner to remove the ad.  That demand, and the condemnation of Missouri Right to Life for this race-baiting fundraising campaign, is the correct course of action. I do not condone nor have I called for the billboard to be defaced.

I’ll have an update on the formal request to the owner to remove the ad soon (promise).

Now, let’s dive into some realness.

There is little that illustrates privilege more accurately than people asking for a discussion in response to disrespectful intolerant racist behavior. 

That’s what some commenters to my posts about the billboard are selling and I ain’t buying.

These folks have a flawed view of social justice – that it is a movement populated by people seeking a dialogue over whether or not they are worthy of rights, respect, and decent treatment.

That’s the lie I’ve encountered my entire life.  That if only I could make the case…prove my worthiness…put folks are ease with my blackness…calm their fears, which we’re all supposed to accept are legitimate…win some insane debate…it’s galling to even type this mess. 


If only I could win the case for respect…yeah, then those who assume they have the power and authority to grant or withhold justice and equality would see fit to dispense some to me and mine.

Here’s the truth.

I’m not going to “discuss” whether black women are violent and dangerous…so easily confused that we’ve been hoodwinked and bamboozled into thinking making we’re capable of making health care decisions without the assistance and guidance of Missouri Right to Life.

I’m not going to engage in a dialogue over whether black women deserve trust…have earned the right to determine our reproductive destiny through blood, sweat and yes tears…and are capable of making health care decisions despite the deplorable health care disparities facing our community.

I’m not going to make the case…plead for respect and dignity…explain and beg and show examples of why we’re worthy of access to the full range of reproductive health care.

I am a black woman.

The price of my dignity is not being forced to engage in a never-ending festival of justification for whether or not I possess the intellectual capacity to manage my life.

Just think about that for a minute. 

Ponder how outrageous that expectation is.

To be expected to explain my actions because they are automatically assumed to be wrong, flighty and not well thought out.

To not just suspect, but to have glaring proof in the form of a billboard standing in my home city, that some people think we are violent and dangerous and cruel and selfish and fickle and lazy and over sexed and too uppity to maintain relationships and just plain evil sans the intervention of…wait for it…an organized campaign to educate us on just how horrific we are.

Pause…allow to marinate…continue.

How dare people make this public charge against black women and then attempt to chastise me for responding with disgust, anger and outrage?

How dare they engage in this public display of bigotry and attempt to frame this campaign as anything other than Missouri Right to Life’s attempt to hustle funds off the backs of black women’s integrity and dignity and through an overt race-baiting attack on black women’s humanity?

The only way this campaign works is if people accept that black women are the most wretched of creatures.

Deny that lie and you must then trust black women.

Trust black women and you must then respect our rights.

Respect our rights and you must then honor our ability to make the decision whether to have children, how to parent the children we have, and to raise our families in communities free of violence and want.

The lack of shame from those who support this billboard campaign is demonstrative of just how not post-racial we are.

That isn’t new or revolutionary, welcomed or warranted.  

So, let's skip the chat and move straight to the owner of the billboard at 25th and Cass taking this rancid ad down.


Kathryn Bjornstad-Kelly said...

I completely agree. Racism is wrong and you shouldn't have to compromise or to argue over whether or not saying racist things is...well, racist.

By the way, I am also from the St. Louis area. I used to see signs when I was riding on the Metrolink about how abortion was wrong, and it was always a picture of a black woman and a black child, the child usually being male. I didn't realize then how intentional that was, I guess because it didn't target me. After reading more about black women and the anti-abortion movement it because more obvious. Now billboards are getting more blatant about accusing black women of being untrustworthy. It's really sick and it needs to be stopped. I hope the ad is removed, but it shouldn't have been put up in the first place. It's already done a lot of damage to those who have seen it.

Roz B said...

@Shark: I have followed your blog for some time now, and I just want to say how proud I am of you and how fervently you are taking a stand on this issue. These billboards are popping up all over the country in Black neighborhoods everywhere and the disrespect and hatred is palpable!

Thank you for standing up and raising up!

J9 said...

You know SharkFu, I've never really understood why people do not trust those people around them to do what they need to do for their own reasons. When women ask me what they should do (on ANY issue, including health care), I tell them to educate themselves on all sides of the issue, have all of the real info, and make a decision based on what is best for them and their family. I just don't get it. Why would I assume I know what people should do? I don't want anyone telling me what I should do. I could divert into my theory on ensuring a large population of poor people to provide fodder for the war machine, but I won't ;-) But still...

Delux said...


Unknown said...

One of these days, I'm going to drive up I70 and go meet you. In any case, yes, this!

I feel the same way about when privileged people start being "devil's advocate" about something that affects me as a woman, or the people I work with as a poverty advocate. The personal is political, so get your danged pseudo-intellectual bullshit out of my life! (Not you, Shark-fu)

Don't make a bigoted statement and *then* ask me to educate you, or say it was a joke, or you were just being a devil's advocate, or any of that shit. Just don't. Ask first, and I'll try to educate you. I might educate you for the merriment of others, otherwise. Perhaps the proper word is "school".

blueditty said...

Holy effing hell!!
I'm in Canada, and there's no way that billboard would be allowed to stand for more than 5 minutes. I doubt very much it would be allowed an many other countries either.
It's a slap in the face to humans regardless of pigment or gender.

lincoln said...

You know, people like to yak.. "Margaret Sanger was So racist.." on and on and on. Yeah, she was. Guess what else? She didn't think people with disabilities were "fit for breeding" either. She wanted to eliminate people (not that she considered us people) like me too.

She was part of an entire culture of eugenics purity types who wanted to eliminate everyone who "blemished" their so-called "perfect" race. This was the culture that gave Hitler an award when he started up his atrocities in Germany.

I don't hear these anti-choice fools running off at the mouth about how people with disabilities and Jewish folks need to avoid Planned Parenthood.

I still haven't heard back from the STL comptroller about how much they're paying for the billboard. Wouldn't that be a nice stat? "You're paying X amount per month for that board. That money would buy x, y, z resource for women in need."

Not that they would care or anything.

NancyP said...

Today outside Planned Parenthood (PPSLR on Forest Park Pway), I saw a "Genocide" sign held by a white protester. The traffic light on FPPway changed, and I didn't get a chance to read the small print on the poster. (I was on my way to work). Pretty clearly the national RTL message-making machine is disseminating this - I'd hazard a guess that that protester hasn't seen any part of North City - ever.

NancyP said...

Exactly how many NON-racist white people can you mention from the Margaret Sanger era (circa 1900-1930)?
("bbbut - Wilberforce, Christian abolitionists, missionaries...")
Kindly look at your denominational membership rolls for that era, or for that matter, now.

The "look at Margaret Sanger" tactic is not just a distraction, but is an active effort to use the "racist? Who? Me? best friend blah-blah" narrative to persuade themselves (the white anti-abortion movement types) that their own excreta smells like roses.

Snark off
Word verification: turacism

ny edge said...

I just stumbled across your post & would like to add my 2cents --
the same ad (except it featured a little girl) went up in New York City about a month ago....ever hear the expression "in a New York minute"? well that's how long it took for the billboard to come down, it was gone so fast no one even had time to deface it!
Another thing the anti-abortion/Planned Parenthood groups get wrong -- Margaret Sanger was accused by the religious right in the 1920's of practicing eugenics against immigrant women; primarily Italian & Irish Catholics, not African-Americans, and there's plenty of archival evidence to prove it!

Zrzuce said...

This is an excellent post!

Despite being white, as a gay man, I know exactly how you feel when you say, "That’s the lie I’ve encountered my entire life. That if only I could make the case…prove my worthiness…put folks are ease with my [gayness]…calm their fears, which we’re all supposed to accept are legitimate…win some insane debate…"

Those of us who are not white, Christian, English-speaking AND straight are constantly told that we have to prove our worth to those who are white, Christian, English-speaking and straight as if they somehow get to preside over our right to even be.

I am so glad you wrote this post!

Susie Kline said...

These ads are appalling on so many many levels. Whoever thought of them should be ashamed!

Xo Susie

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