Thursday, November 4, 2010

Racial Blame Games: abortion, welfare, crime and prisons

I have a habit of reading blog comments -- even the ones on FOX's propaganda "news" station --because I like to know what folks are thinking. While the comments I read are extremely varied, the ones that invoke, mobilize, and manipulate racist-sexist-classist (etc) misinformation sometimes bore me, often bug me, and always concern me, because not only these comments present factless opinion as irrefutable truth, the beliefs they reflect uphold existing institutional inequalities and oppression.

How 'bout some truth-telling.

Contrary to popular stereotypes (rooted in the racialized meritocratic myth that, in the U.S., hard work yields success for everyone) about women/girls who undergo abortion, welfare recipients, "criminals," and imprisoned people:

In the U.S., WHITE WOMEN HAVE *MOST* ABORTIONS (even without Census statistics, which verify this fact, it's safe to presume white women have *most* abortions because white people are the numerically dominant population in the U.S. Interesting that many people presume the opposite. Why is that, I wonder... ).

Sadly, it is true, that black women have abortions at a disproportionate rate (but that's more a reflection of the historical, instutionalized racism, sexism, and classism that severely limit or entirely eliminate black women/girls choices and opportunities (e.g. jobs and education), rather than an indication of moral bankruptcy. Post-World War II U.S. government policies, for example, created a racial wealth gap in the U.S. that maintained blacks disproportionate and severe impoverishment. All poverty is terrible. And black and Latino/a poverty is even more severe than the poverty in which poor whites live.

-- most WELFARE recipients are white (white women -- not black people, or black women as the prevalent, historical racist-sexist-classist stereotype encourages people to believe)

-- Justice Dept. statistics also show that most CRIMES are committed by white people (mostly white men, who commit mostly violent crimes against mostly white women and children);

-- most DRUG USERS are white (73% is the conservative estimate;

-- most DRUG DEALERS are white
(Yet, the majority of those incarcerated for the aforementioned crimes, and for crimes in general, are black and Latino/a. Why is that? Racially and economically discriminatory police practices, judicial practices, crime and prison discourse, as well as unequal education, social services, etc, are some of the causes for black and Latino/a men and women's disproportionate imprisonment rate).

-- when whites are victimized by VIOLENCE, they are most often victimized by other whites

-- the overwhelming majority of RAPES are INTRA-RACIAL, acquaintance rapes (i.e., people tend to rape within their own racial/ethnic group. So, white women aren't raped by a black or Latino male stranger jumping out of the bushes. Like all women, white women and girls are raped most often by men and boys that they know. And when interracial rapes occur, most of the time, it's white men and boys that are raping/sexually assaulting women/girls of color. That's a historical and present day FACT.

One need look no further than the historical sources and texts on rape in the U.S. South's slavery institution for abundant evidence of white men/boys sexual violence against black women and girls. This racial trend in sexual/gender violence did *not* end with slavery's abolition. It continued in the post-emancipation Age and under Jim Crow as the majority of (legally) employed black women/girls did domestic work for white employers. Domestic toil for white families made black women/girls vulnerable to the rapacious appetites of the white men that employed them, and the white boys, friends, and relatives for which they were hired to serve).

(For a history of sexual and gender violence in the slavery South and Early America, see Deborah Gray White's brilliant "Ar'n't I a Woman?" Female Slaves in the Plantation South and

1) For info on abortion & race, see:

**ADDITIONAL reading:

Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor, edited by Tara Herivel and Paul Wright

Prison Profiteers Who Makes Money from Mass Incarceration, also edited by Tara Herivel and Paul Wright