by Kris Ford
A little back story:
Last night, August 13th, there was a screening of We Always Resist: Trust Black Women. The documentary touches on the ways that the pro choice framework abandons black women. It talks about solution oriented community activism and the ways that black women are left in the lurch when the conversation about reproductive rights focuses only on the single issue of abortion. After the film, local activists Deon Haywood of Women With A Vision and Paris Hatcher of SPARK and Race Forward got together to do a panel discussion about their work and the film.
Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana Director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, was the first person to speak. She proceeded to rudely derail the entire conversation.
This is my response as a member of the Women’s Health and Justice Initiative, a queer black femme woman, a New Orleans native, and a daughter of a mother who taught me not to think about my body on anybody else’s terms but my own.
-Kris Ford, WHJI
To Melissa Flournoy, PhD
Louisiana State Director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast:
Before you say that I don’t know where you’re coming from, I feel like I do. You spent a lot of last night interrupting me and other women to talk about yourself and your views and motives. You felt that last night’s discussions should have centered on how organizations like Women With A Vision, the communities they serve, and women of color as a whole could “show up” for Planned Parenthood’s pro-choice fight.
Since I’m fairly certain that you didn’t spend a lot of the meeting taking in what by the women around you said, let me sum it up:
1. Black women know the needs of our communities, our families, and our bodies. We trust ourselves to have our best interest at heart.
2. The pro-choice/pro-life framework that Planned Parenthood supports and fuels largely leaves marginalized women behind. We gain nothing from joining your parade or lending our faces or our children’s faces to your billboards.
3. You, Melissa Flournoy, are a perfect example of the schism in work around reproductive rights. Your refusal to listen, your insistence on centering the conversation on your personal wants, and your flippant disregard for the work that organizations led by women of color have done. Worse, the huge organization that supports you is guilty of the same.
To read the entire letter, click here.