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How Far Have We Drifted?

This article, dear reader, can be considered part two of my love letter to Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist as well as a champion of reproductive justice.





The term, "reproductive justice" has been appropriated by proponents of abortion with the idea that it is "just" for women to have all rights to not only their body but the body of their unborn child. This is a sticky topic for many women especially women of color because of the fraught history of ownership of black women's wombs. For centuries, lack of bodily autonomy for the black woman has created a natural backlash against any perceived form of curtailed rights to her body.


It makes sense. For the non-Christian woman, it makes total sense.


Where the disconnect happens is for the woman, who identifies as Christian, to come to the same conclusion about the sanctity of life as a non-Christian woman. We all have to acknowledge that our values are not the same on this topic.


Christian women are held to a different/biblical standard when it comes to questions about how life begins, whose life is it anyway and who has the power over life and death.


This is where Auntie Fannie weighs in. As an activist, she would have advocated against bodily ownership by another human for sure. As she so famously said, she was sick and tired of being sick and tired of injustice.  She was done with being disrespected as a "mammy" or an "auntie" in the perjorative sense of those words. One of the reasons for her foray into the civil rights movement was because of her anger at being forceably sterilized and having no say over her reproductive future. Having suffered several miscarriages, she most like went into the operating room on that fateful day in 1961 thinking that by having a fibroid tumor removed, she would increase her chances of carrying a baby full-term.


After her "Mississippi appendectomy" egregiously occurred, she knew that her best chance to change laws and practices in her state was by the ballot. So, she risked life and limb to make sure that black Mississippians had the right to have a say about their own lives.


All along the way, however, she made sure that her Christianity was her moral compass in all matters. She identified herself as Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer to make sure folks knew she was a married woman, and that her adopted children had a solid foundation with a mother and father. She came to be noticed while singing a gospel song on a crowded bus full of nervous civil rights workers. Her house was the neighborhood hub where people felt welcomed and knew they would be fed and encouraged. Being the 20th of 20 children, she knew what abortion would have done to her tightnit family and that there may not have been a Fannie Lou if her parents were not God-fearing Christians. She understood that the families true wealth and legacy was tied up in it's children. That may have been why she was so drawn to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at the age of 44; She became the mother figure she knew the young activists needed for the difficult times they faced.


So when she was asked about womens reproductive rights, she didn't give the answer many eugenicists would have liked. Mrs. Hamer saw through the ploys of the eugenicists and called out legal abortion as legal murder. She could see the genocide arriving on the horizon and she sent out a clarion call when others may have wanted to remain silent on the subject.



Her stance on abortion and reproductive rights definitely would not mesh with where many in the black Christian community seem to have landed on the questions. Reproductive justice looks entirely different now that it did back in Mrs. Hamers day. Her standard was biblically based and would be considered very old fashioned for today's times, no doubt. She was in good company back then with the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


But I fear in todays' climate she would have been cancelled.




Just how far have we drifted?


I recently read a piece by a West coast health department that attempted to appropriate Mrs. Hamer's stand on reproductive rights as a stand for abortion.


That was never her position.


But because people do not know their history, others are attempting to co-opt civil rights heroes and corrupt their voices.


Don't fall for the rope-a-dope regarding Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. She was and always will be a righteous voice for the pre-born and a champion for Reproductive Justice in the original sense of the term for she knew that that is exactly what God stands for.


Many blessings, Sylvia


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