One of my favorite aunts—the one who taught me about Maat, whole foods and natural haircare—bristles when I tell her I hate something. I’ll say, “I hate the last four episodes of ‘The Game.’” She’ll tsk, “Words are powerful. Hate takes too much energy.”
I’m going to have to disappoint my aunt today. Because I am still feeling some serious hatred about the racist anti-abortion billboards Jamilah King covered yesterday. I’m so pissed, I had to write a list:
1. I hate Life Always, the faux-pious anti-choice group behind thatsabortion.com and the racist billboard, which has “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb” looming above the image of a 6-year-old black girl named Anissa Fraser.
2. I hate how Anissa’s mother dressed her baby in pink ruffles, put a
bow on her pretty, kinky twist-out and took her down to a modeling
agency for the ultimate picture day, only to see her daughter’s image used for racist propaganda.
3. I hate how I’m toying with the idea of explaining why the billboard is racist propaganda.
4. I hate how thatsabortion.com directs black women to seemingly innocuous pregnancy centers that withhold information and hinder choice. I also hate how the site twists CDC mortality
data. From a so-called fact sheet: “Twice as many African Americans
have died from abortion than the combined tolls of violent crime,
cancer, heart disease, accidents and AIDS.”
5. I hate how Stephen Broden, a black Texas pastor and Life Always board member linked the billboard to Black History Month in the group’s press release.
6. I hate that Lamar Advertising, the company paid to erect the billboard, took the Soho one down last night, but I’ve heard about at least one in L.A. (If you’ve seen it, please share the address in the comments!) [Editor’s note: Here’s a photo of the L.A. billboard and information on the campaign behind it.]
7. I hate how Lamar claims they removed the Soho billboard because workers at the Mexican restaurant below feared for their safety—not because SisterSong and the Trust Black Women Partnership made serious noise, Brooklyn city councilwoman Letitia James initiated a change.org petition, city council speaker Christine Quinn condemned it, NYC public advocate Bill de Blasio called for its immediate removal, and Al Sharpton was plotting a press conference.
8. I hate how groups like Life Dynamics (blackgenocide.com), The Radiance Foundation (toomanyaborted.com), and the aforementioned Life Always tell black women who make the complicated, difficult, highly personal choice to end a pregnancy that they’re committing genocide. Genocide is the deliberate, systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. People like Christopher Columbus (yeah, I said it), King Leopold II, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot and Raphael Trujillo committed genocide.
9. I hate how this whole mess is the flip side of the breeder, Welfare Queen and Jezebel stereotypes.
But honey, one thing I love: How black women across the political and religious spectrum have been speaking out about the billboard and connecting it to the overall attack on women’s reproductive freedom. These billboards might have been a stab at humiliating sisters who have had abortions, but based on the conversations I’ve had and those crackling across the Internets, that ish didn’t work. Like veteran marketer and author Thembisa Mshaka wrote, “Thatsabortion.com billboards are an ad FAIL.”