I’ve had many discussions with older African Americans about what we call the apathy of the younger generation. They seem to be incredibly distant from the struggles of Civil Rights Era. To hear them tell it, it has little to do with them and I can only hypothesize that this mental “distance” is part ignorance, part self defense and partly the right of those who benefit but do not get bloodied in the fight.
In my opinion, the view that the world is so different today that they don’t need to actively engage and fight for change in the Black community is sadly way too prevalent.
As a a child born the year that Dr. Martin Luther King & Malcolm X were assassinated, great granddaughter of a slave and Native American Indian and the daughter of a woman who lived through Jim Crow, the struggle is an ingrained part of who I am. I see myself, individually and collectively, connected to a legacy of strife and ascension of which I am the beneficiary and guardian. I do not feel the disconnection but the continuum of The Dream.
Regardless of what this generation might believe, this shift towards individualism and away from a collective sense of struggle, which were the glue of the Black community, is only possible because they are beneficiaries of the Civil Rights era.
That is where we differ.
The past few weeks have shown me where we connect. The assaults on women’s rights have left me stunned only because I’ve spent my life in the same protective bubble of inherited blind confidence, assurance and disconnectedness. I am moved by tales of women having back alley abortions, disturbed by old movies where women were so clearly lacking any real autonomy but that’s just so yesterday. How could they have stood such a thing? I just never got it. Women have fought for their rights as equal citizens and made tremendous, unassailable strides, or so I thought.
I was wrong.
Women’s rights are under attack. Our right to our bodies, to self-determination and actualization is what’s on the chopping block. I had no doubt that we remain second class citizens in the eyes of many men and that we live in a world whose limitations are defined by patriarchy but those rights which women marched for, died for, and laws which had already been passed…I never imagined that they would be challenged. Not in the 21st century.
Beneath the skin of our nation, ideological warfare is being waged. Religious zealotry has infected politics under the guise of the GOP, threatening to undo 40 years of progress. The separation of church and state is guaranteed by the first amendment and yet that seems to hold little sway in the political arena TODAY. You only have to listen to Santorum to get the lay of the land. The Right wing agenda is actively and insidiously pushing legislation based on their religious beliefs, challenging and undermining women’s reproductive choice. Transvaginal ultrasound my ass. If you think that’s an exaggeration, read this article from the Daily Kos. You can also read the excellent article, The GOP War on birth control by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.
Historically, women vote in greater numbers than men and I’m betting that the 2012 election will be nothing short of historic.
In a society where women are still struggling for equal representation, still not earning the same pay for the same work as their male colleagues, still make up less than 15% of congress, never mind be president, and comprise less than 10% of media executives, which stops us from telling our own stories and combating embedded stereotypes, lack of reproductive choice is a death sentence.
Every woman I know is outraged at the dismissiveness of elected officials and their intrusion, legally mandated, on our personal choice. Women need to send a resounding message that we will not go back. I will never in my lifetime support a candidate who espouses the rhetoric and policies coming from the GOP candidates seeking presidential nomination.
It will not stand.
The call has gone out for a National March against the War on Women to be held in Washington on 4/28/12. I plan to be there with every person I can wrangle to show that our voice matters, ensure my rights and those of future generations. Just to ensure that they get their chance to glide along in the protective bubble and take for granted, as long as they can, that their rights are guaranteed. 🙂
Go to http://www.facebook.com/UniteWomen for more information.