Friday, March 30, 2012

Is Menopause a Requirement to be a Black Woman in Congress?

[Editor's Note: ABFam™ Member Ciara is a longtime contributor here. We go back like Kevin Willis' hairline (Google it). So when she wanted the opportunity to expound on my epic rant about Black Congresswomen, I ceded the floor. The lady is speaking. Show some love, you-know-where.]

Like many women, I have been set off by the recent barrage of legislation attacking women’s health. As a uterus-carrying citizen of this great country, I don’t appreciate old, White men trying to dictate what I can and cannot do with my body. I’ve donated to Planned Parenthood and the National Organization of Women, and I’ve used social networking as a platform to inform and educate people about the current state of women’s affairs.

Female politicians of the Democratic variety have also spoken up and out about the so-called “War on Women”. Hell, even Obama made a mention of the state-level attacks on reproductive rights. Alas, through the weird-17-minutes-of-attention this news is getting, something is missing. Actually, SOMEONE is missing.

Black women were the highest demographic of voters in the 2008 elections but we’re not well represented in Congress. While African-American women on the state level have made their voices – and actions – heard concerning this current wave of abortion rights legislation, I can’t say the same for Congress. I’ve seen more of them during the Trayvon Martin saga than I have standing up for the right of a woman to control what way her fallopians flap in the wind. Frankly, it pisses me off. While I appreciate the OG-Triple-OG Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for walking out of Darrell Issa’s birth-control panel, I haven’t seen any other stance since.

African-American women are dying from cervical cancer at a higher rate than White women. We are the most new cases of HIV and we’re diagnosed later for breast cancer and die faster from it. We are perishing from the issues that Republican lawmakers and overzealous non-profits (see: Susan G. Komen) are playing games with. And what do I see? Not one prominent African-American female politician standing up for these issues. I want to hear voices, not see your face in the still photo from an impromptu press conference. I want to hear you yelling from the rooftop that Black women’s lives are at stake if we continue to wage these attacks on women’s rights.

So the more I think about it, the more I realize that it is time for some fresh meat. Maybe these women’s are disconnected from the needs of the new generation of Black women. What’s the last piece of crucial legislation that any of these women have championed that concerns women’s rights and issues?

Why are they continuing to reinforce the stereotype that Black women put their race first when it comes to public policy? Yes, I’m Black but I’m a woman. I bare children. I raise families. I support husbands and partners. I love. I want to live. Those ideas are not generational. But maybe our concerns are. Frankly, I don’t look at these women and say “Yes, they speak for me!” I’m 24 … how can they?

Question: What do you think?

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