Reproductive Justice for Black Women, Latinas, More Critical Than Ever
Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, Natural Birth Equity Collaborative; Karla Gonzales Garcia, COLOR
For the past three years, the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, or COLOR, along with dozens of partners, has hosted a Halloween-themed social media conversation on Twitter about the frightening facts and the disparate outcomes in health, wealth, safety and well-being that reproductive-justice warriors like Sister Song have been fighting to address for over two decades. #ScaryStats is part awareness raising and part call to action to invite people to do something about injustice and oppression in their communities.
#ScaryStats is also about sounding the alarm for black mamas not surviving the birth of their children in a country that spends more per capita on health care than any other nation in the world. People of color, LGBTQ people, undocumented immigrants and those who live at the intersections of these identities navigate a nation that reminds them every day that whether they live or die is not a priority.
This is not hyperbole; this is fact:
- Latinas make 55 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
- Black women make slightly more, at 67 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
- Indiscriminate raids, mass deportations and border checkpoints are placing disabled children in the crosshairs of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and tearing them away from their families.
- It is safer for women to have a baby in Bosnia than in the United States.
- One-third of transgender people in the U.S. (pdf) report living in extreme poverty. People in Flint, Mich., still don’t have clean water.
These facts are not just inconvenient statistics; they are manifestations of horrible policies imagined by powerful lobbying firms and approved by local, state and federal legislators who, too often, put their own personal beliefs and political agendas ahead of the needs of their constituents.
#ScaryStats is about sounding the alarm for black mamas not surviving the birth of their children in a country that spends more per capita on health care than any other nation in the world.
That is not just scary; it is terrifying. And the Twitter conversation was about shining a light on the struggles faced by women of color and other people living at the margins of power. It was about making it clear that #BlackLivesMatter and that black women are facing a public health crisis. It was intended to amplify the very real harms caused by our broken immigration system and lack of fair workplace policies.
Of course, social media trolls committed to proving how morally bankrupt they are were quick to attack. Anti-abortion trolls tried to hijack the conversation in order to shame people for accessing abortion care or supporting abortion access. As is often the case, they were too busy demonizing providers and people who need care to actually consider truly listening to and supporting women.
Planned Parenthood Black Community, a forum to lift the specific needs of black women and communities of color and to emphasize the efforts to ensure the health, rights and dignity of black people, became the focus of the Twitter attacks after it shared information about the maternal health crisis that black women in the United States are facing right now.
And, be clear, this is a human rights crisis.
More black women have died in childbirth this year than from abortion-related complications in the past 15 years combined. Much more needs to be done to protect and expand access to the full range of reproductive health services that black women need—including abortion—and make sure that people are aware that maternal mortality is an issue that needs some very real attention.
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