It Can Be Scary - It is Important!
I’ve only read a portion of Dorothy Roberts’ (Twentieth Anniversary Edition) challenging - Killing The Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty. Many of the things she spoke of prior to the books’ publication in 2017 have been greatly amplified by the multiplicity of murders and aggressions since then which have targeted Black People, particularly women and transgender People.
I can’t write a relevant “review” of this book, until I complete my reading of it, and that likely will be delayed. It is challenging to know where to begin! The impacts of slavery upon Black People are immense. Rarely do we - white men - let go of our “personal safety” and really emotionally open up to what has been, and unfortunately continues to be done in the name of “government”, “society”, or even us as individuals.
I can not imagine emotionally what it could have been like to kill one’s young baby, feeling that one doesn’t want to force that child to live in a world, where their choices are minimal, their rights are non-existent and much, much, much more. A young girl of 11 or 13 Must face repeated sexual assault from a man, who may be powerful as her slaveowner. He may also be a Black slave - who is “doing his job” and will face severe punishment if he disobeys. Alternately he may have a deep loyalty to his “Master” (sic) . His grooming the girl for “adulthood”, which is both working long hours, as well as birthing as many children as she can. Individually they may be sold - they aren’t “her children” as we might think of as being “reality”.
The book also relates how Black Females remain as “bodies” today, facing oppression in many ways which reflect the deep traumas of Slavery - carried forward to the present - relevant to our lives today. A key problem with this, for me, as a white man, is that this reality is “not close to home” - not “relevant” to my life, unless I proactively see it and act to support others trying to end the abuse.
Margaret Sanger has recently been brought off her “pedestal” but exposure of her actions and words related to eugenics. If I were epileptic, I would hope that I would get compassion from others, who might help me when I needed help. I would not want, nor expect that I should - because of this part of my being - Not ever have a child. There is a huge difference between learning about potential dangers in one’s life, and being - “othered” - as: Black, female, sexually active, epileptic, developmentally delayed or other parts of our being. Being “othered” means that we, individually, and collectively matter much less, if at all, in the concerns of those who seemingly are privileged, and through that valued by those who wield power locally and nationally.
It can be challenging for us, as men, to dig deeply into issues - that we “don’t need” to look at. Something as seemingly obvious to us such as the desirability of birth control, can be and is, and has been weaponized against Black women and girls. Unless we are curious, and act significantly pushing into our curiosity, and stay connected as we feel uncomfortable, we won’t help systemically end the oppressions.
Building allyship - connections - with other white men is important. We can’t do the work as loners or as “saviors”. We can support the work of others such as women, non-binary people, trans folx, Black Queer Women, Black Men and others. We may not relate - personally to much that we face. We can build our empathy, while we heal our own traumas.