Friday, December 30, 2011

The Duplicity of the Women's Reproductive Rights Movement

Is it desirable that the unhealthy, the unfit, the feeble members of the community propagate their kind and fill the world with their children? Is it right for these to populate the world, as has been done, or shall some stringent measure be taken to stop this if we are to survive.  
- Margaret Sanger

Obviously, I am quite liberal-minded. I am for women who choose to remain single to achieve their career goals. I am all for women who raise their children on their own. I am for homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender individuals. I am for interracial relationships/marriages and same-sex marriages. I am all for the liberation of the oppressed no matter what form they come in. As long as you are not causing harm to anyone (or animal) or the environment then you should be able to do as you please.

Margaret Sanger
(1879-1966)
So, obviously I am going to be for women’s reproductive rights. Duh! Women’s access to reliable birth control and safe abortions has given them renewed control over their bodies and their lifestyles. Safe abortions have given women the choice to terminate unwanted pregnancies resulting from abuse, such as rape and incest, or because they were simply not ready for children. With birth control, women can now dictate the number of children that they desire or whether they want children to begin with. Not to mention the added bonus of enjoying their sexual freedom as much as men. Every woman who makes use of birth control products need to give a personal salute to Mrs. Margaret Sanger who fought to bring birth control awareness to the mainstream and chaired the First American Birth Control Conference (FABCC) in New York in 1921.

Crypto Eugenics and Its Connection to Birth Control and Abortions

While there are similarities in the struggle for reproductive justice as far as white women and minority women go, our fight and our struggles are on a wider spectrum. That should be noted, examined, and acknowledged.  
-My boss, a Native American activist & revolutionary
My feelings towards abortion and birth control are double edged to say the least. I believe in birth control and that a woman has a right at all times to choose what she will or will not do to her body. However, I realize that when it comes to minority women, the poor, as well as the disabled, the aim of birth control and abortion come from Crypto Eugenics (Population control). If you’re unfamiliar with eugenics or Crypto Eugenics, trust that you're not the only one. I know about Crypto Eugenics because it is an issue that I have to personally write about for my job which involves the reproductive rights of Native American and minority women.

So here’s a little history...

In 1883 Sir Frances Galton (Cousin to Charles Darwin) founded the Eugenics program in order to create a more fit society by ridding society of what he deemed unfit. The term eugenics comes from the Greek, meaning “well bred.” Unfit or undesired persons are by eugenics definition poor, and or minority persons. Galton’s goal was to take Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest and mix the theory with Gregory Mendel’s plant genetics theory (Reynolds, D, 2002). 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Materialistic Consumption or Wealth Building?

A focus on material trappings is becoming an ideology in its own rights. Having a large quantity of these trappings is becoming an end rather than a means. It is becoming a measure of self-worth and success.  
- Jonathan Mobutu
Materialism is defined as a preoccupation with material rather than intellectual or spiritual things. Call me crazy, but is this not American society in a nutshell? We are a capitalist nation and it is all about what you got or if you do not have it then it is all about how you can get it (Wormer, Besthom & Keefe, 2007). I refer to this as individualistic materialism. We want the biggest houses, the baddest cars, the nicest clothes, the hottest shoes, and the best jewelry...for ourselves...to make us happy.

African-Americans play their fair share in society’s materialistic value system. Most blacks are living below the poverty line or close to it, but they are still very materialistic. It is a materialism marked by the consumption of things. In his book, The High Price of Materialism (2002), Tim Kasser says that poverty creates a troublesome environment in which people often worry about how their basic security needs will be met and they often become obsessed with materialistic goals in order to compensate. University administrator, Ferdinand Hamilton, leans towards this view when he says, “I understand the need to compensate for a lot of inequities” (Benjamin, 2005, p. 14). It is not unusual to walk through a lower-class, black neighborhood and see shiny Cadillacs sitting on equally shiny 32-inch rims in front of shabby looking homes. It is also not unusual to see young women in these same neighborhoods walking around with Louis Vuitton purses (not fake ones either) while barely making it paycheck-to-paycheck.

Materialism and the Black Culture

Gator Boots, with a pimped out Gucci suit
Ain't got no job, but I stay sharp
Can't pay my rent, cause all my money's spent
But that's okay, cause I'm still fly
Got a quarter tank gas in my new E-class
But that's alright cause I'm gonna ride
Got everything in my momma's name
But I'm hood rich da dada dada da
 
- Lyrics to rap duo Big Tymers' “Still Fly”
The Black community is not the only community that is affected by materialism, but it is quite prevalent. Don’t believe me? Just turn on the television or listen to the radio. Every other commercial shows a new gadget, new clothes, or new “toys” that an individual “must” have to be in the hip and in the now. Furthermore in almost every mainstream video given on countdowns that range from B.E.T. to M.T.V. to V.H.1., this materialism is oozing from the television. In order to be considered hip and cool a person is shown what is hip and cool, this includes clothes, rims, fragrances, etc. Funny thing is these outlandishly priced materialistic possessions are advertised by the same persons that are in these videos who seem to be “role models” in our culture within certain age groups. These "role models" are used advertise to our culture because marketing agencies know that people in the black community will buy the products if it is connected with a familiar face. (A note should be made that we don’t necessarily buy things made from people within our race, simply advertised)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Condemnation of Single Motherhood

It's a double bind for moms, because fathers seem to carry much less responsibility for the problems their sons may have, but in the political and popular culture of today, they are considered absolutely essential to raising good sons.

- Peggy Drexler

In a society that upholds Eurocentric values [patriarchal ideology], the single mother is met with regular hostility. The main reason is that single parent households headed by females do not fit in with societal norms (Dickerson, 1995). The singleness of single mothers is what is truly irksome. The traditional family consists of a father, mother, and children [don’t forget the family dog]. The mother is the caretaker of the household, cooking, cleaning, [birthing] and raising the babies, while the husband is the breadwinner bringing home the turkey bacon. This is the quintessential prototype of the American family. Single motherhood disrupts this capitalist dynamic causing it to be viewed as a threatening social problem which needs to be eradicated (Dickerson, 1995). You know, kind of like the plague—or a virus.

Ann Coulter [a white conservative, pictured on right] makes no qualms about her feelings for single mothers. Coulter says that almost all of society’s problems are the result of single motherhood (2008). And why is that you ask? Well, single mothers choose to have children out of wedlock every year without making that long trek down the aisle with their baby’s daddies or giving up those babies up for adoption to a deserving [traditional and middle-class] family (Coulter, 2008). These women have made the conscious decision to ruin their children’s lives (Coulter, 2008). Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution [fancy!] says almost all of the increase in child poverty since the ‘70s can be linked to single parent families...headed by women (Coulter, 2008).

What about Black Mothers?: Black Children and the "Need" for a Father

“I never had a father in my life, so I guess that’s why I am the way I am.”

"Well what about your mother, didn’t she take care of you?”


A conversation between my late mentor Dr. Cheryl Hardison Dayton and a fellow classmate

When I look at my niece and nephew and I look at my brother playing with or taking care of them, the statement that “Black men aren’t fathers in their children’s” lives becomes myth. While single parent households are on the rise in all levels of socioeconomic standing, this is not only an issue that affects Blacks but affects everyone. However when you turn on the television and listen to hip hop lyrics that brag about the amount of “Baby mamas” that a man has, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and overlook the facts. However, it is true statistically that in the United States 67% of Black household are single parent households (Children in Single-Parent Families, n.d.). This data however also includes couples who are cohabiting and step parents. (Thus the data is skewed)

When Barack Obama was governor he bought into the hype said that “Black fathers are missing in too many lives” (Davies, 2008). What isn’t taken into account is the definition of fatherhood and how that varies for race to race as well as the role that non-biological father figures can play in childrens' lives (such as mentor or step-parent, step parent, uncle, etc.) in a child’s life. Our president then went on to reiterate the same message in 2010 on Father’s Day. What he and others fail to understand is that research has shown that Black men keep in contact with their children more than any other race or ethnic of fathers (Alexander, 2010). Additionally, it blows my mind that no one is taking into account the amount of Black men who are incarcerated.