I probably don’t need to tell you that the pro-life movement, as it is currently practiced by American evangelicals, is rife with hypocrisies. A blog post by Tori Williams Douglass points out the ones that affect black lives with such stunning clarity that I reread some paragraphs twice.
Her bottom line is this: if you try to derail the discussion of Black Lives Matter by making it about abortion, and how the womb is the most unsafe place for black lives, chances are you are pro-birth, not pro-life.
Here is Douglass in her own convicting words (emphasis hers):
If you claim to be pro-life but you don’t support black lives once they leave the womb, your pro-life position is functionally meaningless.
If you claim to be pro-life but you’re unaware of or not disturbed by the fact that twice as many black babies die in the first 30 days than white babies, your pro-life position is functionally meaningless.
If you claim to be pro-life but you are either unaware of or have no problem with massive racial and socioeconomic health disparities, your pro-life stance is functionally meaningless.
If you claim to be pro-life but you’re unaware of intergenerational trauma, ACE scores, DNA damage, altered neurotransmission, and its effects in black communities, your pro-life stance is functionally meaningless.
Much like white feminism is exhausting to black women, white pro-life movement is exhausting for black women. Conservatives claim to care about black life in the womb, but their rhetoric, their policies, and their indifference to the quality of black life, in the womb and out of it, tell a completely different story.
We see this scenario played out time and time again on Facebook and Twitter threads with the hashtag #AllLivesMatter in place of #BlackLivesMatter, effectively erasing the unique struggle that black people face in this country. Racism isn’t limited to white hoods and burning crosses, and white people — particularly white evangelicals — are either unaware or unwilling to admit this.
Refusing to hear stories of black oppression is about preserving white comfort. The #AllLivesMatter bandwagon is particularly dangerous because it espouses casual racism under the guise of equality, when the reality is it silences black voices.
I recognize that not everyone can “help” or pitch in with every cause they believe in. That is not my standard of measurement for determining whether or not someone is pro-life. I measure someone’s pro-life position in the arguments they choose to fight and how they choose to fight them. If you claim to be pro-life, but you come and start a fight with me when I say Black Lives Matter, your effort to prove me wrong about the value of black lives tells me far more than any rhetoric that you may espouse about life before birth.
Insisting on making any conversation about black lives to talk about black abortion is a tell — you do not want to discuss system racism because it doesn’t align with your preferred worldview.
When a black mother knows that pro-life only extends to the end of the birth canal, why would someone in her difficult circumstance have any desire to bring a child into the world?
Honestly, there are so many breathtakingly quotable lines in this post that I highly recommend reading it on your own time, slowly. Then read it again, and share it with the people you know whose anti-abortion beliefs and actions aren’t in sync with each other.
(Image via Shutterstock)