It seems silly to have to ask people to trust you when it comes to your own body. Trust that I know where and how I want to raise my kids. Trust me to decide whether I want to birth at home or in a hospital or trust that I can choose whether or not to have an abortion. Sadly, for Black women, these choices aren’t always given, and having control over our reproduction has had to come with a fight.
Thankfully, there’s Trust Black Women, a coalition of Black female lead organizations from across the country who have banded together to fight attacks against our reproductive rights.
But if you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of Trust Black Women.
Well, not to worry. I recently sat down with Monica Simpson, executive director of Sister Song, a reproductive justice organization based in Atlanta that started Trust Black Women, and she broke down everything we need to know.
The organization was started in 2010 when anti-abortion attacks turned racial. Billboards went up in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta stating, “The Most Dangerous Place For An African American Is In The Womb.” They looked at the record number of abortions being conducted by black women, and the fact that a majority of abortion clinics are in the black community, and likened it to genocide. So influential were their claims that lawmakers in Kansas passed a law outlawing abortions based on race.
That’s when Sister Song stepped in.
“They were coming for us, trying to shame us about abortions, but they weren’t looking at the full picture,” says Monica Simpson. “They weren’t talking about the fact that we make .60 cents on the dollar, domestic violence, rape culture, lack of quality healthcare, over policing of black and brown people, the fact that we’re getting gunned down in the streets.”
Sister Song partnered with some other black female lead organizations from across the country and created a grassroots campaign called Trust Black Women, which means to trust that we know how to make the best decisions for our families, our communities, and our lives.
The campaign was so successful in igniting black women to stand up for our bodies that they were able to get the billboards taken down, as well as change and push back on some of the anti-abortion legislation that was coming down the pike.
Now that they’re six years in, they recently re-launched with an expanded agenda. “We realize that our work is no longer just about attacks on abortion. And now that we understand our political power we want to build on that. Maternal immortality is on the rise, babies are being taken away, we want to parent in safe environments, and we need to address police brutality and our prison system,” says Monica.
More people are being brought into the fold. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, and analyzers are joining the movement. Everybody is welcome. They also created a solidarity statement with Black Lives Matter, which was powerful because history has shown that one of the most effective ways to divide the strength of black people has been through abortion. By joining together the two groups have been able to form a united front.
“We want to reach more states and educate more women about their reproductive rights, and also let them know that Trust Black Women isn’t confined to birthing children. Some women can’t for various reasons and some don’t want to. It’s about reproducing our ideas, and we need to live in a world where we are safe and have access to the full range of healthcare,” explains Monica.
Now is definitely the time.
This country may have its first female President so it’s imperative that we step up to the plate and hold our politicians, and community, accountable. Hillary Clinton recently sat down with Essence magazine’s editor-in-chief Vanessa K. De Luca and said:
There’s a very clear set of issues that are particularly important to African-American women. I will continue to reach out to say, “Look, we’ve got to build on the progress. I can’t do it without you. I want to know what you need, and I want you to know that I’m going to do everything I can to respond to those needs.
Trust that we will hold you to that, Hillary.
It’s really amazing when you consider that we have a powerful network of socially conscious Black women working together on our behalf. And just like our predecessors of the Civil Rights movement, Black women are at the forefront of change. We’re organizing our communities, influencing elections and getting court justice. Just look at how Black female protesters in Oklahoma were instrumental in getting a life sentence for police officer David Holtzclaw who was convicted of raping multiple Black women. And there’s so much more that we can do.
Trust Black Women have got this! So where do we sign up?
Go to trustblackwomen.org and subscribe to their newsletter, follow them on social media, and share the information with your friends. Let’s make #TrustBlackWomen the hashtag of empowerment and not the latest sign of powerlessness. RIP #ClarenceCrutcher #KeithLamont #KorrynGaines
Are you in?
This article first appeared on Madamenoire.com on Sept. 26th, 2016.