Response to Racist Billboard Campaign in Chicago

By Claire, Communications Intern

Billboards went up in Chicago earlier this year with the same racist anti-abortion message directed towards low-income communities of color.  This is a response  from Gaylon B. Alcaraz, director of the Chicago Abortion Fund.  She and other pro-choice organizations are currently trying to have the billboards removed.

Black preachers and other Life Always representatives stood at the microphone explaining why they chose this neighborhood and the president’s image for their tag line: “Every 21 minutes our next possible leader is aborted.”  These three identical billboards placed side by side on a building that face evidence of poverty, neglect and despair is ironic.  The lot in which the press conference was held is littered with broken glass and garbage, with grass nowhere to be found.  It is this scene that provided the backdrop for this Houston-based group to advocate for “Life Always.”  Yet, these outsiders fail to see the irony in telling black women in this depressed neighborhood not to abort their ‘babies.’ 

By coming into poor communities of color in an effort to regulate and attempt to control women’s decisions about reproduction and reproductive health, the group is spreading fear, myths and falsehoods not only about abortion (one lonely woman of color stood on stage and talked about breast cancer and abortion) but also about what these anti-choice organizations actually do…

As a woman of color that has been poor, marginalized and ignored by society, I resent “outsiders” that don’t live in these neighborhoods bringing their message and agenda to these communities, which they will likely never step foot in ever again

By calling black women victims without looking at the social conditions of black women’s total lives, these “outsiders” fail to understand why young women of color have abortions in the first place.  As Angela Davis states, “when black and Latina women resort to abortions… the stories they tell are not so much about the desire to be free of their pregnancy, but rather about the miserable social conditions which dissuade them from bringing new lives into the world.” (Roberts)  There is no discussion about why abortions are needed; the lack of access to quality health care, comprehensive sex education and contraception; or even employment prospects that would help young women care for the families they already have.  

Emphasis mine.  The simplest solution to decreasing the abortion rate is to improve the conditions of the women who will be pregnant.  Make it so that abortion would not need to be a solution.  What “pro-life” organizations like Life Always and their supporters should be doing is funneling the money to run these campaigns into educational and professional resources to help women of color in these communities.  They should be promoting sex education in schools that would prevent the need for abortion entirely.  They should be promoting socio-economic change that would help lift these communities out of poverty.  Instead they’re pointing fingers and making accusations.

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