Blog Posts, Past Actions

Justice for Trayvon Martin and his parents

Most of the talk of reproductive rights in mainstream politics and media in the United States revolves around not bearing children. Family planning advocates, ourselves included, argue for sex education and access to contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy. Pro-choice advocates argue for a right not to bear children who have been conceived.

What is too often neglected in the mainstream discourse is the right to have children, and to raise them safely and with dignity. One reproductive right that women of color do not have in this country is the right to raise their children free of the fear that their babies will be killed because they are “suspicious.”

Trayvon Martin
was a 17-year-old African American who was visiting family in Sanford, Florida. On February 26, during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game, he walked to a nearby store to get candy for his brother and a can of tea for himself. As he walked back to his father’s home, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up against the rain, he was spotted by the (self-appointed, as far as I’ve been able to tell) Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, 28, thought Trayvon looked “like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, looking about.” He called 911, then told the dispatcher “these assholes, they always get away” and “he’s running.” Zimmerman left his SUV and followed Martin, despite being told by the 911 dispatcher that he didn’t need to and a squad car was on the way. Neighbors reported hearing a fight, and cries for help. On one 911 tape, cries and a gunshot can be heard. When police arrived, Trayvon Martin was dead — shot in the chest by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claimed he had acted in self-defense. Sanford police accepted his explanation, saying that they had no probable cause to believe otherwise, despite the fact that Zimmerman shot an unarmed minor with whom he had needlessly initiated a confrontation.

Trayvon Martin had no history of violence or misbehavior, and had no drugs or alcohol in his system. George Zimmerman has a history of belligerent behavior, and was not tested for drugs or alcohol.

I think of how devastated I would be if this happened to my daughter. I also know that it wouldn’t happen to my white daughter; she will never be found guilty of Walking While Black. If she were killed while walking down the street on a simple errand, police would pursue and charge her killer. So while I stand in solidarity with Trayvon’s parents, I also don’t presume to really know what they’re going through, or what all the parents of young men of color who fear that their sons might be next are going through.

It’s too late to help Trayvon Martin’s family keep their son alive. Here’s how you can help them with their demand for accountability for his death:

  • Sign their petition asking the Florida State’s Attorney to prosecute George Zimmerman. Or call the office of State’s Attorney Wolfinger at 407-665-6410.
  • Contact the Department of Justice to ask them to investigate the case and the reluctance of Sanford police to act.
  • Call Attorney¬†Jasmine Rand at 850-222-3333 to give to the family’s legal fund.
  • Share this information. Follow @attorneycrump and @blacklaw18 and the #TrayvonMartin hashtag on Twitter, or “like” the Justice for Trayvon Martin page on Facebook, or follow the blogs I’ve linked here. Don’t let the case fade away without so much as a charge.
Blog Posts

What’s Next? Wait, There’s More!

Jen isn't the only one at All Our Lives who is asking "What's next?" of those who seek to oppose abortion in such self-defeating ways.

I recently sent the following message to an organization that just brought controversial billboards on race and abortion rather close to home. Apparently the root causes of abortion are not eugenic and genocidal enough to claim their attention, even though attention to these and not simply to the end result, the incidence of abortion, would make a lot of unintended pregnancies and abortions go away.

Dear Life Always,

I hear that you plan to bring billboards into the African American majority areas of my city, saying that "every 21 seconds our leader is aborted."

Now I am pro every life, before, during, and ever after birth. And for this reason, I need to ask: why have I not heard of you coming before into the place where my family and I live, alleviating the very reasons why Black women and babies so frequently are involved in situations of unintended pregnancy, abortion, inhumanely unsupported parenthood?

Many Black women say they feel blamed and scapegoated by your billboards. Might this outcry not be a sign to you that your tactics are misdirected? Why not listen and learn in a spirit of humility?

I wish you'd take the money you are sinking into these billboards and spend it and fundraise instead on fostering everything and anything necessary to challenge the realities of institutionalized racism that account for the higher abortion rate among African American women, including the denial of health services such as family planning (prevention) and prenatal and postnatal care; institutionalized poverty; subsubstandard housing conditions; family and community violence; the enforced lack of educational and job opportunities; the criminalization of Black men; the ruthless stereotyping of Black women as sexually and reproductively feckless, irresponsible, destructive…

If every 21 seconds our leader is aborted, then prolife must mean getting on the case like this. It cannot mean anything one whit less. It cannot mean running away from or denying this full and inescapable set of responsibilities. And it must mean dealing with the fact that pregnancy and motherhood are twisted around by social conditions into forms of oppression that abort women's own leadership capacities!

And you know what? I'm sure Life Always is swamped with responses to these Obama-portraying billboards, but…I haven't heard back from them. And I wonder if I ever will.

Blog Posts

More on Bodily Integrity

Unlike Jen, I did not attend the Open Hearts, Open Minds conference. But I did carefully look over the program materials beforehand, and was struck by how few people of color were involved in it. I was struck that while abortion of disabled fetuses was on the discussion agenda, there seemed to be little involvement of people with disabilities and disability rights advocates.

I am a person with disabilities, and though I am of European descent myself, am the very involved grandmother of a child of color. People with disabilities and people of color have in so many ways, including but not limited to abortion, been denied the rights to life and bodily integrity. So I am troubled by these apparent omissions of vital stakeholders from this conference. 

There is a disability rights movement slogan that occurs to me at this point: "Nothing about us, without us." Hopefully any future dialogue efforts will consider this at the planning stages, not after the fact.

Blog Posts, Past Actions

US Maternal–and Fetal– Mortality Crisis

Over the past twenty years, US maternal/fetal deaths from pregnancy & childbirth have *doubled.* The poor and women and children of color are the most affected. Lack of timely health care–or health care at all–is a major culprit. Please demand lifesaving action. http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=13937