Navigating the mine field that is a Black Woman’s womb

When I was growing up in Ghana in the home of a Black radical (my mother) and a regular dude (my dad), I was taught by my mother and other radicals of her ilk that “civilization was carried on the womb of the black woman”, that her children were “kings and queens”, that her “feet were shod with truth and beauty”. You get the picture; and anyone who was born between 1968-81 and raised in a home of “Black consciousness” knows what I’m talking about. For a short stretch of time, it was a good and honorable thing to raise a Black family with two parents, some kids, maybe even a dog. There was a time, and not too long ago, that if a Black man wanted to have sex with a Black woman, by God he was going to have to marry her. We had that much respect for ourselves, our bodies and the concept of family. I turned the page of this Black book and suddenly being “Black” in the new century means a life style of promiscuity, immaturity and irresponsibility. If you turn on BET, it’s like our women have fought for exclusive rights to exhibit whoredom. Sex is pervasive in our community, and generally when people have gratuitous and unprotected sex, they make a baby.

It gets to be a slippery and dangerous slope when you begin to discuss abortion amongst feminists and black folks, but that’s exactly where I’m headed. Folks get fidgety and indignant because you may be attempting to trample on their “rights” and “choices” with this kind of talk. But when a soldier in Iraq has an 80% higher chance of making it home from war than a Black baby has of making it alive out of his mother’s womb, I have to speak on it. Before I get started, I’ll tell you I’ve heard all the arguments before:

What do you say about children who are a product of rape and incest, Malaka? Should a woman be forced to keep the baby in those cases, just to fit into the scope of your narrow Christian ideals?

My answer is:

Ideally, there would be no rape or incest, but I’m going to go ahead and take a leap and say that the over 1400 Black babies being aborted every day are not all the result of ‘rape or incest.’

For anyone who thinks that I’m removed from the sensitivity of abortion because I’m married, go to church and can “afford” my three kids, let me assure you I am not. I have relatives and friends who have had several abortions…killed their babies like they were squishing an irritation, like an ant. For some women, it’s the men in their lives that coerce/convince them into having the procedure, and for others it’s a very easy decision to make. For my own part, my father and current father-in-law wanted me to have an abortion because my first child was conceived and born out of wedlock. My dad called Nadjah at 10 weeks old in the womb “just a fetus” and Mr. Grant Sr. called her “a collection of cells.” Was it an easy decision for me as a single, scared 26 year old working a crummy job to keep the baby? No, but I could never fathom the burden of destroying a human life. Have you ever seen or read Horton Hears a Who? The Whos ask Horton (who, though he cannot see them, is able to hear them quite well) to protect them from harm, which Horton happily agrees to do, proclaiming throughout the book that ‘‘even though you can’t see or hear them at all, a person’s a person, no matter how small’’. The entire movie is centered around this maniacal kangaroo who is trying to get Horton to admit that Whoville doesn’t exist because she can’t hear or see the Whos. Eventually, she tries to (unsuccessfully) boil Whoville in a vat of boiling oil.

The point is, my baby was not and never was a “collection of cells”. From the night of her conception to this morning when I dropped her off at pre-school, she was and is my ‘Nadjah-bear’.

Has anything I’ve said today going to change anyone’s views on abortion? Maybe…but probably not. As a race, we’ve bought hook-line-and-sinker the concept that who gets to live outside of or die in the womb is a matter of choice. There’s a whole cultural movement in that direction and li’l ol’ me is not big enough to fight against it. And let’s be honest. The decision to abort a baby has everything to do with lifestyle and convenience. It is neither glamorous nor convenient to have a child, be it 1 or 5 in tow while you try to do groceries or get your hair done. It’s an economic decision, because if you are a good parent, the majority of your funds will inadvertently be redirected towards those kids. Is it easy to go to school, conduct business or work when you have an unwanted/unintended pregnancy? No, but it’s not impossible. If you don’t want to face grown up consequences, stop playing grown up games and make the “choice” not to get in bed without a condom, a pill, or here’s a novel idea, NOT AT ALL unless you’re prepared to face the fact that you might make a baby that day.

In 1970, Louisiana judge Leander Perez said “The best way to hate a nigger is to hate him before he is born.” Our ancestral mothers had their babies ripped from their arms on auction blocks all around the south, had them tossed overboard ships during the middle passages, and watched, cried and screamed in agony while slave masters sold them off for profit. I daresay they would be disappointed in our women today and their “choices.” There’s a whole lot of nigger hating doing on today, and it seems to be us niggers that’s doing the hating.