Black Babies

February 27th, 2010

“Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policy of slavery.” – Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ)

Inspired by Rep. Trent Franks’ comment (watch it in Rachel Maddow’s 2/26/10 show below) that Black people were better off under slavery (please also read and comment on my longer prose remarks below).

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Back in those happy days of yore

Before the American Civil War,

Black women didn’t have reproductive freedom

(Their white masters made them bear children when they’d need them).

Trent Franks says Blacks were better off then

(Read more about it on CNN).

Me, I think it’s a little unsavory

To suggest bringing back reproductive slavery.


Let me get this straight: You think that the “policies of today” (by which you mean the “Democrat” policy) of not criminalizing all abortions is worse for Black people than slavery was because four million black babies have been aborted, and fewer Blacks suffered under slavery?

First, the “policies of today” that you refer to were enacted as a protection of individual Constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade in 1973 and has survived 24 years of Republican rule. These “policies” enjoyed broad social consensus for decades until the Republican Party started using anti-abortion fervor as an election tactic. But in spite of more than ten years of Republican incitement on the issue, a majority of Americans still believes that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Second, why are you singling out Black women for criticism? White women and other minorities are responsible for two-thirds of abortions nationwide. If you want to make abortions illegal, why not start there? But I guess I’m being a little unfair here, since I know you want to make abortions equally illegal for everyone, regardless of race. And whether it was a lie or miscalculation, your line that “half of all black children are aborted” is wrong: the actual percentage is 32 percent. Your saying it twice doesn’t make it any less incorrect.

I agree that abortion is not a good thing and should be minimized (see my earlier posts about that), but forcing people to have babies against their will is… wait, I’m trying to remember what that’s called; oh yeah, it’s SLAVERY. Black women were forced to have babies back then, whether they wanted them or not, to increaes their masters’ slave holdings. But since Blacks were better off under slavery, I guess it makes sense to proudly reinstate a system under which Southern Whites (because that’s mostly what the Republican Party is now) legally force Black women to have children against their will. And this seems like a good idea to you? This is your outreach program to recruit more minorities to the GOP banner?

Because noone is forcing the black women to get abortions (or the white women for that matter): they are CHOOSING to do so. You may not agree with that choice, and for many it may be a gut-wrenching, difficult one, but it is their CHOICE. And you want to take it away from them.

We don’t allow unrestricted abortions in this country. We proscribe how and when they can be done. Teen pregnancy is an especially difficult problem. As your own Zombie Queen’s family life proves, even being raised in a religious, upper middle class, well-educated (or not), and (ahem) white family doesn’t preclude teen pregnancy. In fact, national statistics show that abstinence-only programs increase teen pregnancy rates, which makes it perversely ironic that you also oppose the most effective measures (sex education and birth control) for reducing teen pregnancy. Does your mantra of “individual responsibility” mean forcing teens (black or white) to bear children against their will? Don’t bother responding, I know your answer’s yes, and that the children should then be given up for adoption, or raised by that young teen mother with help from the grandparents. That’s what Sarah Palin’s family has done, and what my own white middle-class family did. It’s an admirable choice, and a choice that I support, but it should be just that: a CHOICE.

Sarah Palin said in an interview (watch that video below) that that’s what she would “counsel” a young woman in that situation to do. But she’s misrepresenting herself. She, Rep. Franks, and the rest of the Republican Party don’t want to “counsel” women to choose life, they want to FORCE  them to. And because of our racial history (which Rep. Franks apparently remembers fondly), that’s particularly galling when it comes in the form of Southern white men forcing Black women to bear children.

And finally, Congressman, one doesn’t need to call upon God’s omniscience to know how long we had slavery. As any historian (or any kid with access to Wikipedia, for that matter) can tell you, American Blacks suffered under slavery from 1655, when John Casor became the first legally recognized black slave in what is now the United States (prior to that, slaves were treated legally the same as indentured servants) until the Thirteenth Amendment ended legalized slavery in the United States in December 1865, or 210 years. To increase your knowledge, I recommend this children’s book on slavery, the book Roots (or just watch TV miniseries, since I know you Republicans don’t like to read), the movie Amistad, this documentary, or this (short) book of first person narratives. I love Shirley Temple too, but I don’t think she and Mr. Bojangles painted an accurate picture of slavery’s evils.


Here‘s self-declared feminist Sarah Palin telling Katie Couric about how she would “counsel” an ambivalent mother-to-be (this is also the interview where reveals that she reads “all” the newspapers and magazines). Palin does however state that she’s in favor of contraception, which sets her apart from a lot of the Religious Right.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Here are Shirley and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in The Little Colonel. That and The Littlest Rebel are her two Civil War themed films (if you want them both you can save a little money and get an extra film free with this 3-movie set from our Amazon store).

Here’s Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” (about another song-and-dance man of the same knickname). It’s a great song.

Here’s the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band version. They’re actually the ones that made the song famous. Dylan did a version too, but I don’t like that one as much. Check out all the music on CD or MP3 in our Amazon store, or download it for free (along with movies and TV shows) with a free Real SuperPass trial.

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2 Responses to “Black Babies”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » But Restricting Abortion Rights DOES Create Jobs! Says:

    […] women’s reproductive rights was already the cornerstone of the GOP’s minority rights policy, and is now, since yesterday, the core of the GOP’s women’s rights policy. Why not also make it […]

  2. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Back to (Your Vision of) the Past Says:

    […] After all, everyone was better off then. […]

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