A local group of mothers’ activists talks about the intersectionality of Roe v. Wade in communities of color


It has been three weeks since the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has been made public.

Overturning the 1973 ruling would end federal protections of the right to abortion, opening the door for states to ban or restrict access to the procedure. A number of states have already passed measures that would ban or limit abortion as a result of the ruling. Since then, protests have escalated across the country and residents can’t help but wonder what the aftermath will look like locally and regionally if the landmark decision is reversed this summer.

“Feminism didn’t run for suffrage and feminism didn’t run for candidates of color who talked about reproduction, so now here we are with mainstream feminism facing its worst fears because ‘ he wasn’t showing up to any of the other fights that could have prevented that,” said Mikki Kendall, author of “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot” — a book that centers feminism through the lens of community activism. .

On Mother’s Day weekend, we spoke with Nadine Naber and Souzan Naser, co-directors of MAMAS (Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity), a Chicago-based collective that works with affected mothers/caregivers of color. by violence, surveillance and deportation by law enforcement.

Rosemary Cade, 67, joined MAMAS for the camaraderie. The Roseland resident is the mother of Antonio Porter, who is serving a 71-year sentence for a 2002 murder conviction stemming from a dice game. Cade spoke about her son’s story at a gathering over Mother’s Day weekend. She said being in community with other mothers offers comfort.

“There are other mothers out there who are hurting and struggling with the same situation as me with my son – it’s a lot of stress,” Cade said. “The fight is the fight. We must continue to fight. We cannot give up.

Created in 2019, the collective sees police violence as a feminist issue, where prisons impact their children and by extension impact them. MAMAS seeks to integrate the voice of mothers into social movements. Naber, professor of gender and women’s studies and global Asian studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and founder of the faculty of UIC’s Arab American Cultural Center, and Naser, licensed clinical social worker , counselor and adjunct professor at Moraine Valley Community College and president of the Arab American Action Network, spoke about the intersectionality of feminism, reproductive justice (reproductive rights, access, and social justice), and the upcoming decision on Roe v. Wade.

“For women of color, the fight for Roe against Wade must be accompanied by the fight for all women to have access to health care and for all women to have the ability to have or not have children and to mother in safety and dignity,” Naber said. “Our problem is that whatever argument you make for the right to choose, it still won’t be enough if people don’t have health care and people aren’t protected from violence in the world. ‘State.”

Naber said MAMAS wants to make sure mothers of color have a place at the table for change movements.

“We work with moms who resist immigration bans, moms who survive war and colonization,” Naser said. “We must take seriously the impact of prisons on people of color, not just in the United States, but also on colonized peoples around the world, including Palestine. We need to talk about how prison, colonization, immigration bans and detention economically devastate mothers and caregivers. This impacts their physical and mental health. This interferes with their ability to survive and thrive with dignity. Mothers and caregivers bear all these burdens when supporting their incarcerated family members, when resisting war and colonization.

The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Q: What does the collective think about the news of the draft decision?

Naber: Fighting for the right to choose couldn’t be more urgent. We are very critical of how society is addressing this moment, that our society is addressing it in white, middle-class, feminist terms. These terms exclude the realities that women of color face and how they would be impacted. Reproductive justice is about the human right to raise your child. If you were to have a child and the state forcibly separates mothers from their children, which very disproportionately affects women of color, who whether they’re immigrants, undocumented refugees, that trauma reoccurs from generation to generation in generation. For us, it’s the problem of the police brutality of the Chicago Police Department, either killing children and forcibly separating mothers from their children and the Chicago police mass incarcerating black and brown men, as well as the department Chicago police force mass confessions. The question is: who is going to speak to these communities and these mothers who face an extremely urgent reproductive justice issue that goes beyond a right under the law to choose whether or not to have a child? ? It is a condition that takes away your ability to be a mother to your child.

Naser: It comes down to who has access and who this ban will have the most impact. This will impact minorities and marginalized communities as middle-class white people will be able to continue their normal lives. They have the money, they have the ability to meet their health care needs.

Naber: Control of women’s bodies has always been central to white supremacy – we know this from the history of Native American slavery and genocide. The hetero-patriarchal family, conservative concepts of female respectability, the white middle-class family must continue if white supremacy, white privilege and capitalism are to remain, which is what the United States is based on.

Q: If the mainstream is single issue feminism, do people of color have to create their own form of feminism to be included?

Naber: Movements are often a unique problem. In our case, it is about sexism and racism. It’s intersectional and that’s why we need to create our own because we need a space that can work on both at the same time – it’s gender and race together. It’s mothering and police violence. There are many movements like ours, but all of these groups are also on the fringes…other groups of people are doing the intersectional framing, but maybe they’re just not as well known.

Naser: When we think of the women’s rights movement, it was initially led by middle-class white women who did not include, prioritize or vocalize, or champion the needs of women of color and other marginalized women who have historically and continue to have limited access to health care, who have no choice for effective contraception. Just think of the different ways in which reproductive injustices are sustained – BIPOC mothers and caregivers continue to be dehumanized for social issues. One of our mothers talked about how she is treated when she could come in person and visit her incarcerated son, how racist and sexist this process is when visiting the prison or the prison ward. audience and how the corporate media blames mothers of color for the death of their children or for their incarceration. Reproductive injustices include all of this.

Q: Is there a way to get more people drinking Kool-Aid inclusive feminism?

Naber: The mainstream discussion is that if we really want women to have autonomy over their bodies, then they should get those rights under the law. We say that is not enough. If we really want women of color to be included in this, we have to say that women should be able to choose whether or not to have children. Some people don’t even have a choice to have and after having, you should be able to parent, mother your child in safety and dignity. It’s a frame of colored women on it; to be able to raise your children in sustainable communities with dignity and security and not have to worry about your child dying or being taken from you. To drink the Kool-Aid, we have to couple the fight for Roe vs. Wade with multiple fights at the same time – that’s what makes it a women of color perspective, that it always has multiple demands and multiple struggles. That’s what’s hard for the mainstream to understand, they want one thing, but women of color feminism is never one thing, because if we’re talking about housing, we need housing and child care. ‘children.

Naser: If they continue to undermine people’s ‘rights’, what does that mean they won’t stop individuals from going out of state to get the medicine they need, healthcare health they need, abortion who they need?

[email protected]


Comments are closed.