Abortion Rights and Black lives
Organized by pro-life group Life Always, this anti-abortion billboard, blatantly targeting Black women, was put up in Manhattan in 2016. It states that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb”, which completely disregards the daily hardships of what it means to be Black in America, and elsewhere, but I will focus on the United States as the original ad specifically mentions African Americans. There is an alarming number of Black folks being incarcerated all around the United States due to the unjust Prison Industrial Complex, which is essentially the expansion of prisons based on industry needs; this issue involves prisoner labour, and is often referred to as modern day slavery. With growing numbers of police brutality and blatant racism, every day actions such as taking the bus or shopping can be threatening. Living in fear, they have to be cautious about the possibility of being targeted at any given moment. The billboard is improper in labelling a Black woman’s womb as dangerous when growing instances of racial profiling make daily activities difficult for a Black person. I think the statement on the ad comes from a very privileged place, failing to look past taken-for-granted comforts and failing to realize that every day is a struggle for so many Black people around America.
Furthermore, this billboard blatantly dismisses a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. Promoting anti-abortion messages disregards the fact that women of colour are much more likely to be sexually assaulted, therefore safe abortion processes and other health services are necessary to ensure the wellbeing of women and their opportunities to thrive. Also important to note, another issue with this billboard is the image used – putting an innocent child on the face of such a large billboard is despicable. This ad projects bigoted messages of race and sex, disregarding the struggles of Black people, specifically Black women. To Life Always I ask: Are recurrent targeted shootings, prejudiced arrests, disproportionate numbers of Black homeless women, and police brutality really safer than a Black woman’s womb?
Culture Jammed Version
The original ad wrongfully blames Black women as dangerous and immoral. My jammed version aspires to highlight that all women’s choices matter and skin colour should not affect access to abortion rights. I changed the text to “the most dangerous place for an African American is anywhere she is targeted and her voice not heard” to highlight the struggles a Black woman faces daily, rather than singling out the possibility of abortion and labelling it as shameful. Further, I used the pronoun “she” since the original specifically targets the wombs of Black women, and to highlight a Black woman’s presence in America – they are no different than any other American. With this, I hope to reveal that the original portrays abortion as the worst thing that could possibly happen to an African American, and disregards the frequent unjust threats to Black life. In addition, I changed the website address to “prolife.org” to direct women to a source that provides reliable information on health services. It is essential to share resources that can help all types of women live healthy, thriving lives rather than promoting ideas that suppress their rights of choice. I hope to highlight how the original is problematic in promoting a site that normalizes abortion as sinful or indecent. My version aims to establish that abortion is acceptable and often necessary for mental and physical wellbeing.
In addition, I added graphics to emphasize all types of women deserve equal opportunities and respect. I used a colourless silhouette of a Black woman to show skin colour should not affect abortion – any woman deserves the right to make decisions about her body regardless of ethnicity. The original singled out a Black woman’s womb which is inappropriate and blatantly prejudiced. Also, I added an image of a woman older than the child on the original because I found it improper to include an innocent child on a controversial ad, hence I added someone older to note that disregarding women’s rights will have generational effects. Lastly, I included a raised fist and the female sex symbol to stress strength and togetherness.
Crockett, Emily. “‘All Lives Matter’ Is Now Being Used against Abortion Rights.” Vox, 10 Jan. 2016, www.vox.com/2016/1/10/10745722/all-lives-matter-abortion.