Monday, February 28, 2011
I struggled with what angle I would approach this blog post concerning the billboard that was recently taken down in SoHo due to public outcry that read “The most dangerous place for an African American is the womb.” A report cited in recent years by the CDC states that white women accounted for the largest percentage of abortions (37.1%), followed by black women (34.4%), Hispanic women (22.1%), and women of other races (6.4%). White women had the lowest abortion rates (8.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratios (144 abortions per 1,000 live births); in contrast, black women had the highest abortion rates (32.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratios (480 abortions per 1,000 live births).
With those figures I can understand why someone or an organization would make an attempt to raise awareness about the high abortion rate particularly amongst African American women, but what I don’t understand is the wording along with the picture. Has anyone on that organization’s board ever heard of connotation and denotation? Have anyone of them ever heard of inference or implication? How about the plain old read between the lines or the possibility of some serious misinterpretation? We live in a country and perhaps world who at one point (and maybe still) wished that African Americans did not exist at all; that we never even reached the womb let alone it being the most dangerous place. Was it even considered that it could be racially charged? So we can conclude that the wording on that bulletin board was a bad choice that ended in a bad consequence. The sign was ultimately taken down.
Now let’s get to the bigger issue of good and bad choices along with their consequences. As the statistics above reveal, there are a whole lot of bad choices going on. We have to get to the root of these choices. I find it hard to believe that all of these folks made the good choice of using contraceptives and they did not work causing the choice of an abortion to be made. I just find it hard to believe that all of the condoms broke or all of the pills failed. Let’s get real; many of these choices for abortion had to be made because some bad choices were made up front. Choosing an irresponsible partner; poor if any planning at all; the “Oh it can’t happen to me” syndrome; the old just this one time syndrome; the old “If you really love me” syndrome, and on and on and on.
We must give some serious thought to the choices we make as each one comes with a consequence. The abortion rate really is not the issue; the choice to have irresponsible sex is. Yes Virginia, if the sperm meets the egg you can indeed get pregnant (For those old enough to remember, Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus). It’s sad that someone felt the need to place a beautiful African American child on a billboard with the tagline “The most dangerous place for an African American is the womb.” It’s even sadder that we refuse to take responsibility for our actions; that we refuse to be accountable. I am pro choice but I am also pro consequence. Something to critically think about and as always I welcome your comments in the comment section.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
If you were to look in my personal library, you probably would find anywhere from 25 to 30 books on the subject of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and/or the Civil Rights Movement. I have studied Dr. King in nearly the same manner that he studied Gandhi. The latest book I read about the account of Dr. King’s assassination was a fascinating look at the simultaneous whereabouts and movements of James Earl Ray (his accused assassin) and Martin Luther King, Jr. up until the bullet piercing his neck on April 4, 1968. The book is entitled Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Hampton Sides. It is a chilling account of how Dr. Kings and James Earl Ray’ paths cross on that fateful day in April of 1968. I was born in August of 1962 making me to be five going on six, and I remember the impact that the assassination of Dr. King had in my house and the world. I remember going into the bathroom and just crying and not really knowing why because I saw the reactions of both my mother and my father to hearing the news.
I start this entry with this brief backdrop to help you understand why for the last two years during the month of February at The St. Luke Baptist Church Heritage Sunday Celebration words could not describe my feelings as I listened to both Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy last February and to the Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles on yesterday (2/20/11). The pastor of St. Luke, Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, makes it his business to have us have the opportunity to hear from historic figures that helped pave the way for African Americans and all Americans in order for us to be inspired to pursue our God given excellence and I am grateful for his efforts.
Well, I sat there yesterday on the absolute edge of my pew as Rev. Kyles interwove his experiences with Rev. King on April 3rd and 4th of 1968 within his larger message of “Hold Fast to Your Dreams.” Rev. Kyles shared how dreamers are the ones who make the world go around. He went on to share that there are a lot of dream busters out there. He asked, supposed the Wright Brothers had given up on their dream to fly? He encouraged those of us in the congregation to recapture any dreams that we may have lost as they are our dreams and not anyone else’s. He noted that even the sanitation workers had a dream. Rev. Kyles shared a story of how during one of his trips to Philadelphia, PA, a young woman came up to him and said, “ I would like to thank you and all of the others who took up the cause for the sanitation workers because I am now a judge and my father was a sanitation worker. To our young and not so young, he talked about a time when it was “illegal” to learn to read. He kept emphasizing that it is no longer “illegal” to learn how to read and if you had the ability to read between the lines he was letting us know that we must read more as a people.
As I said in the beginning of this entry, I have read countless books on Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement but it was the strangest feeling to listen to someone who spent the last hour of Dr. King’s life with him. There were three preachers in that room in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee that day and they were King, Abernathy and Kyles. When Martin Luther King, Jr. stepped out of the door at the Lorraine Motel, Billy Kyles was there. You cannot imagine hearing the accounts of the Mountaintop speech and the sound of the gunfire from Rev. Kyles. It’s one thing to read about it; it is another thing to hear from an “honest witness.” Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles is "Walking History." The plan was for Dr. King to have dinner at the Kyles’ home that evening and then attend a rally. These plans were changed by one bullet and the rest as they say is history. I will not forget meeting Rev. Fauntroy last February and I certainly shall never forget meeting and listening to one of my heroes last moments from someone who was not only there, but up close and personal. It is an experience that words will just not do justice. I encourage everyone to take a trip to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee if you have not done so already. I have been to The King Center in Atlanta, GA on several occasions and have not taken the opportunity to stop through Memphis, but you can rest assured I will. As Rev. Kyles ended his lesson, he emphatically said with almost tears in his eyes that, “You can kill the dreamer, but you can NEVER kill the DREAM. Whatever your dream is as the NIKE slogan says, “Just Do It!” I also encourage you to make a donation to the Washington D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. You can do so by logging on to http://www.mlkmemorial.org/. By making this donation you too can be a part of history.