Monday, April 11, 2011

The most dangerous place for black women’s agency is in the hands of Missouri Right to Life’s spin machine…

UPDATE - Thank you Gateway Advertising for your swift response and condemnation of this racist campaign! 

I am pleased to know that Gateway Advertising is no longer the owner of this billboard and appreciate you supplying the information on the current owner of the billboard - John Drochelman of Catalyst Investments!


A billboard claiming that the most dangerous place for a black child is in the womb…that black women are dangerous genocidal threats to black children…has been placed in North St. Louis city.

Specifically, the billboard is at the intersection of Cass and N. Jefferson.

I know this neighborhood well.

I volunteered for years at a shelter for teen mothers just a few blocks from where this racist billboard now stands.

At a shelter where the residents are predominately black women who balance school, parenting and work.

At a shelter where women work to rebuild lives shattered by violence and oppression.

At a shelter that saw state funding slashed over and over, year after year, by a state legislature that has yet to consider legislation that prevents unplanned pregnancy, would reinstate comprehensive sex education in our schools, and expand access to programs that prevent sexually transmitted infections.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Ward 5…driven the streets, got to know families and residents…and one thing is clear – this is a neighborhood full of people, not genocidal maniacs…full of children, not creatures representing a separate species.

Full of black women, capable of self-determination and deserved of respect.

On Friday I drove up to inspect the billboard…to see for myself how Missouri Right to Life sees black women, how Missouri Right to Life invests in black communities by fundraising through campaigns attacking the humanity of black women, how Missouri Right to Life would like to define black motherhood.

And I saw a contrast that will probably skip right over MRL and their minions…if they dare to drive to the corner of Cass and N. Jefferson, park their cars, unlock the door (gasp), get the hell out and meet people.

The contrast is between the definition of blackness on the billboard – that black women are dangerous, violent, hateful, fickle beasts who are threats to our children and community – and the real community where this billboard has been placed – full of families, homes, the church around the corner, the fire department up the street, the young women who walked up to me and shared their disgust over this racist campaign when I stood staring at the billboard.

I am a proud St. Louis city resident.

I call on the owner of the billboard and/or property to pull this racist advertising immediately.

I denounce this billboard campaign as an insult to all St. Louisans and Missourians.

I am a black woman.

The most dangerous place for black women’s agency is in the hands of Missouri Right to Life’s spin machine…

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


Clarissa said...

As a resident of St. Louis Metro area, I share your outrage against this vile and offensive campaign completely. It is beyond wrong that Right to Lifers would deface the city with these racist billboards. I'm just horrified at this.

Denise said...

*sends you virtual high-fives*

And I'll share my take on this subject with you: Broken Cherry on a Tuesday.


The Roving Reporter said...

Ugh, these billboards are racist, sexist and downright disgusting.

Rodentia said...

Right on.

Anonymous said...

The billboard is incredibly shocking. It's so funny no one really wants blacks around, yet they put this forth. I think the real issue for these folks is that they want to stop abortions so white women don't abort babies but are pretending to care about black women. They are playing a game on everyone becuase they believed that people would be all up in arms and yelling stop the murderers. Who wrote these campaigns who is funding this insanity?

They are not going to change people's minds about abortion. You are either for it or against. Those for choice are not going to change their minds and vice versa.

Just watched a movie about Margret Sanger and it is so clear how it was so difficult for women who wanted to control their reproduction. This battle has been going on ever since a bunch of men got together and decided it was a religious issue. It's crazy.

Jeffrey Ricker said...

If they don't take that fucking billboard down, it should be taken down by force and used to beat Missouri Right to Life over the head until some sense gets knocked into them. After all, it'll take a while, and it'll take something that big to get through their thick, dimwitted skulls.

Ken said...

This is an example of "isolate, alienate, exterminate" thinking.

These billboards are disgusting.
Is there anyway they can be removed? Someone somehow got this taken down in NYC.

Shark-Fu said...

Now, now - no beatings! Unless verbal cause words are my weapon of choice!

Delux said...

You're no fun, Sharkfu.


Peggy H said...

Oh - My - Gawd!

I don't know why I continue to be suprised by this ignorance.

Sandi said...

Where's the one that says 'The most dangerous place for any child post birth, is in the hands of so called right to lifers that no longer care if they are fed, clothed and have access to good schools and medical care once they've been born.'?

Has Gateway lost their collective mind to greed?

Anonymous said...

Ok here's the nicest thing I can say. This in itself is a logical fallacy, Hasty Generalization. The data collected for the statistics they use are very limited and is very likely conducted in a bias manor. It is wrong to take limited data that is likely to be inaccurate and apply it to an entire race. This is stereotyping at its finest.

SL Meyer said...

The ads were tastless, tacky and downright racist and insulting the 1st time around.

and to add some silly insults to teh injury, evidently, you can get your yearly pap and breast exams at Walgreens now. No, I kid you not. And VOIDH- well the video link is on the page too. Happily, Walgreens told them otherwise.

Anonymous said...

As much as it right to take it personally- it sound to ME like there is some 501C3 (non-prof) out there just trying to make a buck. They are PLAYING fear factor. So- this will tell you where they plan to scare up some cash. People will do ANYTHING to make money. They don't really care about the picture that they paint. said...

I am the President of Gateway Outdoor Advertising and we do NOT own this billboard. The City of St Louis confirmed this yesterday. The billboard was taken over by John Drochelman (Catalyst Investments)of St Louis in 2008.

This poster is a disgrace and the owner should remove it immediately and remove our logo still on one side of the billbaord.

omomma said...

You don't have to be black to understand the essential evil of anyone who would put up public advertising like this.

Lincoln said...

Unfortunately, these billboards are actually a national occurence.

Here is Elon James White's commentary on these boards from This Week In Blackness.

Lincoln said...

Hey Shark-Fu:

I just emailed the Comptroller at the City of St. Louis to try and find out how much they're paying for that board. I also told her that the gateway ppl want their logo removed and gave her the guys email address.

We shall see what the response is.

Anonymous said...

how about a flame thrower or a molotov cocktail? We usually have to riot and burn ish down before they take us seriously.

Anonymous said...

It's not just in Missouri, it's all over the country. It was a big deal The sad thing about it is that a black pastor is behind it. Stephen Broden is a LUNATIC who recently lost his Tea Party-backed bid to replace my congresswoman, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. Since then, he's been taking on these tired, crazy campaigns against women and their right to control their own bodies. He's the new Ward Connerly. Nobody can hate us like we can.

Honestly, I think this man is an egomaniac who is for self-promotion and money. The fact that he's completely insane is just icing on the big, annoying cake. I think it's disgusting that a pastor is do this, but then again, a great many of them do this, so I shouldn't be surprised. It's just pathetic and disgusting.

Power Corrupts said...

How to guarantee a failed publicity campaign:
1) Pick an emotionally charged moral topic that creates a difficult and unique decision for anyone directly confronted with it
2) Present it in a way guaranteed to antagonize the target audience
A complete waste of resources.

fidelis said...

The founder of Planned Parenthood is Margaret Sanger, who called "Negros...human weeds, unfit to breed." Planned Parenthood locates 80% of their abortion clinics in minority neighborhoods. Blacks comprise 13% of the U.S. population, but get 35% of the abortions!

How can anyone in their right mind not understand that PP is the racist one, and MO Right to Life doesn't want ONE single black child to be sucked out of her mother's womb by the money-obsessed greed-infested butchers at Planned Parenthood!

Anonymous said...

The statistics validate the message on the billboard, so it is not racism, it is truth. Pro-lifers not only object against abortion, they also feed, clothe and help with medical care for those Moms and their upplanned children. Pro-lifers also provide assistance with post-abortion stress for Moms (and Dads) who have undergone abotion. If you disagree with the billboard, fine and God bless you. How about showing a little bit of the "tolerance" and intellectual integrity you always seem to demand of the Pro-life side.

SMR said...

Pro-Life people are not judging anyone who has ever had an abortion. We are just trying to prevent children in the future from dying. And we are trying to help mothers avoid the emotional, physical and spiritual pain associated with abortion. God heals and forgives us all. That is the message of Alvida King, the niece of Martin Luther King and that is our message.
God bless!

Shark-Fu said...

Anonymous - that may be your message but the message on this billboard is the same tired as hell race baiting mess that has polluted your movement from jump. And Alveda King's continued co-opting of MLKs legacy doesn't cleanse this "message" - it clarifies just how rancid it is.

This billboard speaks volumes - if race baiting insults to black women isn't what you are about the take thus monstrosity down. Otherwise you are of this campaign and I denounce you as I denounce it - as a deplorable display of bigotry that attempts to raise money by trampling on black women's humanity.

That's a really wretched path that leads away from empowement.

Unless, of course, the goal is to "empower" MRLs coffers...

Anonymous said...

The statistics are right. That is just a fact. Whether I agree with the way it is presented is a different question. I'm sure the message they are trying to convey is that planned parenthood targets minorities unfairly which leads to aborting these beautiful human beings (black and white). I agree with whomever wrote to show some tolerance. Why is their some much hate everywhere. Both sides need to be respectful of each other. The billboard in no way is talking about "black women" being dangerous, but how planned parenthoods' long record is targeting African Americans. Again the lady who started planned parenthood called blacks human weeds and unfit to breed. I am sure you and MO right to life are much closer to allies than planned parenthood has or ever will be. God bless EVERYONE and I encourage dialogue not hate.

Delux said...

I *cannot* begin to take these trolls seriously. If you cared *that* much about black babies' lives, you wouldnt stop at some food and clothing for infants. You would keep going with helping to deal with environmental racism that makes black neighborhoods dumping grounds for toxic waste and increased health problems; you would actually care about food deserts and access to nutrition; you would pay attention to police brutality and criminalization of black youth. you would do a hell of a lot more than put up insulting billboards and mumble smug and ugly foolishness at the women like shark fu who *do* this work in these communities.

When these issues are brought up to your ilk, I hear crickets. I wonder why.

Shark-Fu said...

The billboard is what it is and declares quite clearly that black women are dangerous, violent, genocidal threats.

I do not and will never tolerate that message.

And I'll repeat -if black people boycotted every invention, service or organization with racist origins we wouldn't get out of bed in the morning.

This nation was founded by racists.

The military my Grandfather and father served in was racist.

Ivy League schools were founded by racists.

This game is pathetic.

And y'all should be ashamed.

I do not seek tolerance. People tolerate a stench until they can get away from it.

Now go celebrate your tolerance of my public display of disgust of you elsewhere...

SMR said...

The billboard was vandalized on Tuesday night. It was also vandalized on Wednesday night. We are blessed to know that this important message is getting through. We need to pray for those who aren't versed enough to argue points, but only know violence.
God bless!

Shark-Fu said...

If you are trying to accuse me of violence then you need to come out and say it.

I loathe passive aggressive insults almost as much as I loathe violence.

I have no reports of the billboard being vandalized nor have I called for that action.

I am not, nor are black women, violent because we lack the ability to argue or articulate ourselves.

I understand you just fine, SMR.

I just happen to think you are wrong as hell.

Delux said...

Well Sharkfu, there's the part where we will be accused of being violent *because* we know how to be articulate....

Chriss said...

while i do see that abortion, within itself, is an individual "choice", my first reaction to this billboard was not that it was meant to condemn the individuals who have "chosen" to have abortions,
rather to shed light on the system at play that promotes abortion as the only option for "unplanned pregnancies" in poor black neighborhoods (i put unplanned in quotes because quite frankly, if you're having intercourse, you should plan to get pregnant seeing that that's what is supposed to happen). i was thinking (hoping) that someone was seeking to bring to light the systemic disparities that come with
the high abortion rates in black communities: poor education, illicit and promoted "loose" sexually behavior, the fallacies of birth control
and contraceptive effectiveness etc.

we always want to cry racism when our own failures to look after ourselves (as a
community) are brought to light (and every one who knows me KNOWS that i fully acknowledge racism
every chance i get because it is a living, breathing institution). but we must take more responsibility for our own poor choices at some
point; not the choices of our sexual behavior but the choices of our failure to guide our young people through mentoring and education.

there are too many young people and not enough
moral/economic/spiritual/emotional/physical covering by the older members of the community, no mentors only judges and condemners. i wonder how many of the people who so vehemently abhor these ads are actually in touch with inner-city black teens and black young women.

so my question to you all, bloggers and the general public is: how engaged are you in the lives of you young black women within your community (outside of your own family) who are at risk of becoming ploys in this system that has made money from the reproductive organs of black people for centuries? any active mentors in the house?

Shark-Fu said...

Nice try, Chriss…but, Missouri Right to Life is perpetuating the very false stereotypes about black women you regurgitated in your comment…damn near verbatim.

The same organization that would define black women as dangerous threats due to the outcomes of health care disparities is the same organization that applauds the destruction of social programs, comprehensive sex education and the denial of health care coverage. Despite the high rate of unplanned pregnancy and high maternal death rate (black women are 4 times more likely to die during childbirth)…despite those numbers, Missouri Right to Life opposes prevention programs and programs that expand and guarantee access to health care.

As a mentor through Big Sisters and a volunteer at St. Louis shelters for homeless mothers, I’ve seen the devastation that Missouri Right to Life’s crusade has wrought.

What I haven’t seen is…well, Missouri Right to Life.

Maybe they’re too busy sorting through the funds raised off of their degrading billboard campaign…but the shelter keeps calling my phone because they don’t have enough volunteers to assist and they’ve got a waiting list hundreds long of “dangerous” women who decided to continue their pregnancy.

“Dangerous” and “loose” women who face shame and hurdles for trying to purchase birth control, shame for being pregnant and shame for having a toddler that some rancid organization is going to then objectify on a billboard as they accuse black women of being…wait for it - dangerous.

I long for the day that someone posts a billboard decrying the fact that communities of color lack access to health care…that black mothers face a lack of access to affordable child care, housing, healthy foods…that black people face a lack of access to jobs despite having an education.

Racist campaigns ease the way for the blame game…make it easier to ignore and neglect…absolve society of our role in the disparities facing neighborhoods and communities that deserve a hell of a lot more than being labeled “under-privileged”.

But I don’t need to run my credentials past you or Missouri Right to Life or anyone – if you were in the community you’d know me, have volunteered with me, and you’d know that the lessons learned through my years of activism in St. Louis city are WHY I’m disgusted with this campaign and disgusted with those who would defend it.

Anonymous said...

Until you know what it's like to be surviving, to be trying to climb out of poverty, to be the victim of RAPE and to be sick as a dog, trying to work and earn a living and pay the rent and the car payment and cell phone bill with no family support... until then, you cannot control my body and any mass of uninvited cells that attempt to stick to the side of my uterus and drain me of life.

Until then.

If there is a GOD someday you (you so called "lifers") will learn what it really means to love. Love us now and stop vilifying me and all of the other real women like me!

I'm white, and I know someone was waiting right there to steal any baby I might have had. That is BS as well.

You go, angryblackbitch.

DoubleE said...

This garbage emerges every few months via the Right Wing, RTL, TeaPottiers, et al. and those who object to Universal access to healthcare. There’s a video that creatively re-sorts events & issues to ‘prove’ that PP & its supporters seek to depopulate Blacks out of existence. As the product of Black producers, Conservative Whites champion its credibility.
They cite Sanger’s beliefs in eugenics one hundred years ago as PP’s commitment to genocide. Next come pleas to AAs to cease participating in our own demise complete with attempts to generate guilt.
Although the abortion rate is higher in our communities than theirs, no one appears to have conducted studies to identify causes. What makes the incidence even more peculiar is our pro-life cultural values.
But T.R. Reid sums it up (
‘Increasing health-care coverage is one of the most powerful tools for reducing the number of abortions ‘’ There's a direct connection between greater health coverage and lower abortion rates.’ ‘In Britain, only 8 percent of the population is Catholic (compared with 25 percent in the United States). Abortion there is legal. Abortion is free. And yet British women have fewer abortions than Americans do. I asked Cardinal Hume why that is.
The cardinal said …Britain's universal health-care system. "If that frightened, unemployed 19-year-old knows that she and her child will have access to medical care.." Hume explained, "she's more likely to carry the baby to term. Isn't it obvious?"
A young woman I knew in Britain added another explanation. "If you're [sexually] active," she said, "the way to avoid abortion is to avoid pregnancy. Most of us do that with an IUD or a diaphragm. It means going to the doctor. But that's easy here, because anybody can go to the doctor free."
Those who are sincerely Pro-Life will stop undermining Health Care industry reforms that extend coverage to underserved areas. They need to put their ‘missionary positions’ where the sun don’t shine; us Darkies are quite capable of TCB when we have access to resources. Get out of the way!
Defacing a billboard is not ‘violence’ or incivility. It’s a form of the middle finger to insults from hypocrites. It’s also considerably more civil than RTL’s encouragement of bombing clinics & murdering doctors.

Anonymous said...

This is such an insidious attempt at spin. What MRL is attempting to do is create a divide in the pro-choice movement. In addition to all of the racist meanings of this campaign, a campaign like this also has the potential of shaming white pro-choice advocates into backing down from their opinions; it seems to state - okay white feminists, maybe you advocate a woman's right to choose, but you're not the ones getting abortions are you(even though that isn't true)? Why are you trying to exterminate the black community? This sort of campaign intends to insight in-fighting between white and black pro-choice advocates among other things.

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