Recently, I began reading a book called Killing the Black Body which is a work about the history of African American women’s reproductive rights and it’s switch from the culture of slavery which forced these women into motherhood, to enforcing the government funded sterilization (without patient consent) and suppression of their right to give birth. It’s heavy. Filled with case study upon case study of control, violence, and political struggle. It’s heart breaking really. Causing me to wonder about the intensions behind the existence of contraceptive drugs, the ideals of Planned Parenthood, racism, and the ever changing meaning of (and threats to) reproductive liberty.
There are many reasons I chose to buy and read this book.
Firstly: Because it is a book about Black women. I am not Black. I am a woman. I seek knowledge about both because…I don’t know what it means to be either of those things. So in a search to understand my femininity and my ethnicity, I sought out a piece of literature that might help me understand things outside of my realm of white (enough to practically glow under black lights) and into the common ground of female.
Secondly: It is a history that I am only slightly familiar with because of American History Classes, that are predominately written to give a brief (and not very detailed) history of America. A bit of an experiment with my national identity as an American, and how I may be informed about the laws and issues that surround all women and how those laws effect women on a large and individual scale dependent on issues of race, social, and economic status.
Thirdly: Because it’s a freaking book and I love reading.
When I began reading this book, I found myself not only painfully taking in each case study, but also trying to read between the lines. The forward had informed me a little bit of what the author, Dorothy Roberts, was intending to write about, but I wanted to see what she was REALLY trying to say. To be truthful, I was more or less trying to figure out if she was for or against the ideals of Planned Parenthood. A topic I have come to be more conscious of as I grow and mature in my femininity.
What I love about informative literature, is the questions they pose to me that differ from my own beliefs. But what I enjoy about this book more specifically, is it is written in a way that I am only able to hear the voice of the author in a very subtle way. It is unique, in that it is about the topic of racism saturated culture and the issues it has caused in the realm of Planned Parenthood, but it is also unique, in that it does not disrespect either side of the argument. It tells the story, perhaps not the whole story, but enough for a person to accumulate the gist of both sides of the issue, and to think for themselves.
I wish more literature was that way. I dislike being beaten to death by an argument that has no standing. One that wants me to be brain washed, and force fed only to regurgitate it out later whether it is relevant or not. I don’t want to be assaulted by an author. I want to be informed! I want to know the angles. I want to know the responses to the opposition. I want to actually learn something, not be told to think something, and not to be told to think something that isn’t useful to me. Or worse….isn’t relevant.