Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is a fairly passionate opponent of abortion rights (and by one measure, the most conservative member of the House). Still, even by his standards, the comments he made to blogger Mike Stark Friday were a little extreme.
Discussing civility and outrageous language, Franks wandered into a tangent in which he wound up declaring that “far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.” Where, exactly, did he get that idea? Because, as he also explained, “half of all black children are aborted.”
Franks is wrong on several counts. The abortion rate for black women in the U.S. is about 32% of pregnancies. Or put another way “Black women may be having more abortions, but that doesn’t prove that they’re being coerced into having them. The only thing it proves is that black women are disproportionately having pregnancies they didn’t intend.”
The kindest thing one could say of Franks is he seems to have snoozed through some history and ethics classes. From Ar’n’t I a woman?: female slaves in the plantation South By Deborah Gray White
The rape of black women, their endless toil, the denial of their beauty, the inattention to their pregnancy, the sale of their children were multaneous manifestations of racism and sexism, not an extreme form of one or the other. For black women, race and sex cannot be separated.
African-American women knew that gender as much as slavery and race caused their difficulties. A former slave who had been sold at auction as a child commented to Fisk University interviewers: ” mammy finally died and left a little bit of a baby and do you [know] I had sense enough to be glad when the baby died too. Poor little thing would have to go through the world like I have come; all alone with no mother. Yes sir, I was a child, but I was really glad when the baby died. It was a girl, too. You see that made it even worse.” Harriet Jacob’s baby did not die, but she too regretted giving birth to a daughter: “When they told me my new-born was a girl, my heart was heavier than it had been before. Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own.”
[ ]…For all groups in South Carolina society except the white men who originated it, coerced sex reinforced the authority of white men and challenged black women’s efforts to maintain dignity in the face of that authority.
The sexual enslavement of black women by white men also reinforced their subordination/humiliation of black male slaves. Franks attitude about who should be in charge of women’s bodies is Antebellum to the core. The women folk are not to be in charge of their own person, or their dignity or intelligence respected. That be the job of the white men folk in the Big Guvmint that Franks is for or against depending on what those little voices whisper in his ear on any given issue. Franks and those like-minded are even using the tactics of the Antebellum plantation owners used to control slaves – conspiratorial gossip and twisted history to set black Americans against each other – using terms such as “womb lynchings” to portray abortion of black women. Clever use of emotional imaginary, but those that use it, black or white are simply playing into the hands of the modern plantation owners like Franks. This is a deeply flawed and almost benign sounding statement from one black woman convert – “I just really assumed that white people aborted more than anyone else, and black people would not do this because we’re culturally a religious people, we have large families,”. For years African-Americans had large families because slave owners did not care about coerced sex within their black slave holdings and encouraged sex between slaves to increase the number of slaves – children that would become the next generation of slaves or be sold for revenue. The same slave holders themselves produced more slaves via sex, coerced or consensual. “A culturally religious people” is near meaningless since until relatively modern times most people believed in some deity or deities. Slaves were not given freedom of religion, they were forced to adopt the religion of their “masters”. Far Right religious conservatives have latched on to this abortion as a racist conspiracy with some success. Of course education about contraception, the huge financial responsibilities and other obligations associated with parenting would lower the abortion rate, but for some reason conservatives skip that part when making their conspiracy pitch to the black community.
Master Franks once described President Obama as an “enemy of humanity,” and “acts un-American,” he “doesn’t want people to see” his birth certificate.
The human brain is poorly equipped for comprehending massive quantities. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective; large numbers are relatively new features of our mental landscapes. Thousands, millions, billions, and recently trillions—once reserved for describing cosmic distances of faraway galaxies—have been brought down to Earth in terms of the national deficits we accrue, the bytes of information we clock, and critically, the stuff we consume. But how to wrap one’s head around such unfathomable figures in a meaningful way? In Running the Numbers, photographer Chris Jordan attempts to convey the vastness of modern consumption by breaking down annual statistics into more graspable quantities depicted by clever visualizations made of individual objects or groups of objects that he photographs. The 106,000 aluminum cans consumed in the US every 30 seconds, for instance, become the individual dots of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
There is a flash slide show of Jordan’s work at the link.