Intersections of Sexuality, Race, and Political Ideology
A recent controversial, anti-choice ad campaign has recently been released by the Georgia Right to Life. The ad campaign draws on racist, misogynistic, and sexist stereotypes in order to convolute and misinterpret the highly debatable topic of abortion. The organization’s billboards, which total 80 in the state of Georgia, show a young, worried-looking, African-American boy with the phrase, “Black children are an endangered species” and a plug for the organization’s website at “toomanyaborted.com.” The campaign is based on the statistic that black women are four times more likely to have an abortion than white women.
The Maryland Attorney General, Doug Gansler, released a statement last week saying that the state of Maryland should recognize and legitimize same-sex marriages that took place out of state. This basically means that Gansler is instructing state agencies to enforce his opinion when making decisions on the rights of same-sex couples/marriages. While Maryland is a fairly liberal state, Gansler has still gotten an extreme amount of criticism over his opinion, including a impeachment threat from Delegate Donald Dwyer. Gansler’s opinion is a tremendous step forward in the fight for marriage equality in the state of Maryland, but we still have a long way to go.
Since 1983, any man who has had same-gender sex since 1977 is not allowed to donate blood due to the fear of HIV/AIDS spreading from the gay community to individuals receiving blood transfusions. A group of mainly Democratic senators, led by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, moved today to remove this ban by sending a letter to the FDA saying that this ban had no scientific or medical backing. The group of senators noted the fact that blood screening tests have improved dramatically since the the 1980s during the outbreak of HIV/AIDS and now, donated blood must go through several accurate screening tests in order to be used.
1. Where do we begin describing how offensive this ad campaign is? First of all, the campaign is clearly “animalizing” African-American children and the African-American race generally by comparing them to an “endangered species.” Secondly, the campaign is based off of the premise that African-American woman are responsible for “killing off” an “endangered” population and, therefore, are intellectually incapable of making decisions about their reproductive health since they are committing such a detrimental crime to society. Thirdly, they are convoluting the ideas of political ideology, racism, and abortion as abortion is typically supported by liberals and Democrats, who have also traditionally introduced and supported anti-racism legislation and programs. This ad implies that by supporting access to abortion, you are simultaneously committing a racist act by trying to “kill off” the African-American population through abortion, thus, Democrats are inherently committing a racist act by supporting reproductive justice. Finally, this campaign is blatantly ignoring the spectrum of health issues that African-American women face in this country.
What about the disproportionately high breast cancer rates for African-American women? How about the statistic that African-American women are less likely to have health insurance? What about the statistic that shows the African-American are twice as likely to not have prenatal care as compared with white woman? Why are we not addressing these issues?
2. Being involved in politics, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which white, middle-upper class, straight men (the majority) make decisions about minority rights on a regular basis. Attorney General Doug Gansler is a straight, white, upper class man that luckily has extensive power and is using it for what I think to be a good purpose: extending minority rights. But, on the other hand, you have Delegate Don Dwyer and many other white, straight conservatives in the Maryland legislature making decisions against minority rights day in and day out. There are a total of four openly-identified delegates and senators currently in the Maryland General Assembly. While these four members do a great job fighting for equality in the state of Maryland, where is the proportional substantive and descriptive representation for LGBT individuals?
What about the fact that Ted Olson, a prominent white, straight, Republican lawyer who argued the Bush v. Gore case, is arguing against Prop 8 in California and is hoping to argue in favor of same-sex marriage in front of the Supreme Court? What kind of representation is this? While Olson is thought to be the best lawyer in this country, do LGBT individuals and allies want someone representing them who has traditionally not supported the rights of minorities and is preparing to argue for same-sex marriage from a conservative stance? Substantive and descriptive representation for LGBT individuals can clearly take a variety of forms, but we should continually be aware of who exactly is representing us.
3. I had no idea that sexually active gay men were not allowed to donate blood until I read this article today. While I semi-understand the worry that brought about the ban in the 1980s during the outbreak of HIV/AIDS, the homophobic ban literally makes no logical sense today, especially with the huge number of individuals in this country who are in desperate need of blood donations. The ban also doesn’t make sense on a statistical basis as there are other demographics in this country in which the rate of HIV/AIDS is much higher, namely within the African-American community. I obviously don’t think there should be a ban on African-American individuals donating blood either, but how do we excuse the blatant homophobia implied within this ban on donations by gay men when HIV/AIDS affects every demographic in this country? Even the three major blood donation organizations (American Red Cross, American Association for Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers) have said that there the ban is “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
Other countries have actually replaced the same ban with a ban on blood donations from anyone, gay or straight, who has unsafe/unprotected sex. I question both of these bans. While I would hope that any responsible person would be reasonable enough to make the decision about whether or not they are physically fit to donate blood, it’s not the government’s or these organizations’ places to be selective about who they’ll take blood from based off of who they’re having sex with and what kind of sex they’re having. If the blood screening process is so rigorous and accurate that it can detect anything, why should they have to select donors based on invasive, personal questions?