Late this afternoon I received an email with a link to this article about racist anti-abortion billboards. Great, I thought, more of the same bullshit. I opened the link, prepared to be disgusted, and my blood pressure shot through the roof.
This is the image that glared back at me:
The text reads, “El lugar mas peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre/The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb.” This strategy is not new, but one word is: Latino.
Some of you might not know, since I’m a pretty pale lady, but my mother is a Brazillian Jew and my father is an American Jew. I identify as Latina, as white, as Jewish, as American. It’s not explicitly stated in the billboard, but the tone implies that all Latinas are alike and fit a certain stereotype—we’re low-income, uneducated, and, as a result, committing genocide against our own people. The language takes advantage of the current national racist, ignorant, anti-immigrant discourse that defines a Latino person as an “other.” In reality, the Latino community is as diverse as any other, yet the polarizing language of this billboard reinforces both racist and classist prejudices.
On the surface it may not seem like it, but this billboard is targeting people like me. And if you don’t speak out about this racist propaganda, they will target you next.
According to Yahoo, this disgusting billboard is set to go up in Los Angeles this week and is sponsored by a group called the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. This group promotes the dangerous (and absolutely false) idea that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood specifically target minority communities.
They seemed to have missed the memo. Planned Parenthood serves the Latina community with dignity and respect. If you’re concerned about the rate of abortion among Latinas, invest in comprehensive sex education. Combat poverty. Give our families access to the best education the US has to offer. Give us jobs. Give us labor rights and domestic worker’s rights and all the basic civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Or you could focus on the facts: “No Conspiracy Theories Needed: Higher Abortion Rates Among Women of Color Reflect Higher Rates of Unintended Pregnancy, Improving Access to High-Quality, Affordable Contraceptive Services Among Steps Needed to Reduce Health Disparities.”
But I digress. These billboards are beyond offensive. They take advantage of deeply rooted, dangerous attitudes about race and genocide. They seek to splinter minority communities, igniting a non-existent battle around women who are supposedly the cause of their own community’s extinction. Sistersong reveals the true motives of those behind these insulting billboards :
They believe in population control and use false compassion for children to disguise a racist and sexist agenda. Our opponents are manipulative, zealous, and immoral. They lie using religion as a cover. They try to use combination of guilt and force to undermine our human rights. They accuse us of practicing genocide on our people when we stand up for ourselves.
And what can you do about this hate masquerading as concern? Below are tips from Sistersong and the Trust Black Women Partnership:
- Watch: Join your sisters by staying in the loop about local anti-abortion billboards, legislation, or rallies. Contact SisterSong and the nearest Trust Black Women partnering organization to speak up for your community.
- Write: Write a letter to the editor of your local print and online news publication, community radio or online radio station, blog, or use social media to support Black [and Latina] women and our reproductive options. We have strong messaging that supports our human right to reproductive justice. If you need a template or sample, contact SisterSong and Trust Black Women.
- Advocate: Contact us directly or the nearest Trust Black Women partnering organization to find out about organizing efforts near you. If you want to stop reproductive injustices in your local community and you would like us to help promote your efforts.
- Share: Send information about Trust Black Women to your friends through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Give: You can give a financial contribution to Trust Black Women and support our national organizing. Maybe you are too busy to work on a campaign but you agree that Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Donate . Specify you are contributing to Trust Black Women.
Get on it. They shamed black women. Now they’re after Latinas. Don’t be fooled: these ads may be race-specific, but they are deeply offensive to ALL women.