Tag Archives: racism

Abortion: Three Inspiring Essays and an Activism Guide

Debbie says:

Laurie and I have written about abortion fairly frequently in the many years of this blog, so our readers know that we stand unequivocally and unconditionally with pregnant people’s right to choose. That just means that we’re among the tens of millions of Americans who are appalled by the leaked draft opinion from two weeks ago.

Just about every smart progressive thinker has written about this, and we don’t have anything important to add, so we thought we’d share a few of the fine pieces we’ve seen. The excerpts after each link are just that; the full articles are better.

Mona Eltahawy, writing at her indispensable newsletter Feminist Giant, offers “The Seven Necessary Sins for Fighting Abortion Bans.”  One of her necessary sins is “Attention.”

The few abortion narratives that are considered “acceptable” are often prefaced with trauma and pain—as if they were the price to be exacted for bodily autonomy.

It is important to share abortion stories that say simply: I did not want to be pregnant. In my case, I was not raped. I was not sick. The pregnancies did not threaten my life. I did not already have children. I just did not want to be pregnant. I did not want to have a child. I am glad I had my abortions. They gave me the freedom to live the life I have chosen.

I had an “illegal” abortion in Egypt and a “legal” abortion in the U.S. I reject the power of the State, and Supreme Court, to declare what is “legal” or “illegal” when it comes to my abortions. The State, and the Supreme Court, can fuck off with their opinions and laws about what I can and can’t do with my uterus. That control belongs to me.

Rebecca Solnit wrote “Here’s how Americans can fight back to protect abortion rights” for The Guardian:

This time around – well, as I wrote when the news broke: “First they came for the reproductive rights (Roe v Wade, 1973) and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a uterus in its ovulatory years, because then they want to come for the marriage rights of same-sex couples (Obergefell v Hodges, 2015), and then the rights of consenting adults of the same gender to have sex with each other (Lawrence v Texas, 2003), and then for the right to birth control (Griswold v Connecticut, 1965). It doesn’t really matter if they’re coming for you, because they’re coming for us.”

“Us” these days means pretty much everyone who’s not a straight white Christian man with rightwing politics. They’re building a broad constituency of opposition, and it is up to us to make that their fatal mistake.

Rafia Zakaria’s “Bodily Control and the Color Line” at African-American Policy Forum is another must-read:

… this racial dynamic is likely the deeper psychic rationale beyond Alito’s otherwise inexplicable detour, in the leaked draft opinion, into long-ago eugenicist theories of birth control as selectively racist population control; it’s hard to see this as anything other than a desperate bid to inoculate the Dobbs decision from charges of racialized policy-making from the bench as it translates on the ground into scarce, stigmatized, and prohibitively distant and expensive abortion access for a group of women who are disproportionately nonwhite and poor. And just as is the case with other deceptively packaged appeals to universal racial comity—the ritual invocation of Martin Luther King’s “content of our character” line alongside the rolling critical race theory bans across the states comes inevitably to mind—the careful deployment of superficial colorblind rhetoric ensures that the old measures of racial backlash can now proceed with a new impunity. This is clearly the disparate and unequal socio-sexual order that the high court’s new right-wing majority seeks to underwrite; it’s now up to the rest of us to stop the drift back into maniacal, death-defying control of women’s bodies at all cost.

And, finally, the Los Angeles Women’s Collective has produced a comprehensive and meticulous activism guide, from donation all the way to grassroots day-to-day work.

Don’t mourn; organize.


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Barber Shop Advocates Promote Black Mental Health

Laurie and Debbie say:

Barbershops are a well-known community gathering place for Black men. Writing at MindSite News, Akintunde Ahmad showcases a groundbreaking project opening up that gathering place to discuss forbidden issues of Black men’s (and other people’s) mental health. The Confess Project, founded by Lorenzo Lewis, was founded in 2016.  It trains barbers to be mental health advocates and frontline counselors to their community. According to Ahmad’s article:

Lewis had already tried in vain to hold town hall meetings to bring Black men and youth together to talk about mental health. “That didn’t work at all: Men just didn’t come,” Lewis said. “So we decided to try talking at barbershops,” a “safe, non-judgmental space” where men could let down their guard and talk about anything. …

Traditionally, African American men have been loath to seek therapy for fear of appearing weak, but they are used to opening up to their barber, Lewis says.


The project focuses on U.S. Black barbershops and U.S. Black men, who are subject to an extraordinary level of oppression. Undeniably, a great many Black men in this country are successful, financially comfortable, and reasonably satisfied with their lives. Nonetheless, it’s no surprise that the incidence of mental health issues in this group is extremely high. In the video above, you hear Lewis talking about being (literally) born in prison, you hear a man talking about where to take his responses to watching police brutality on TV, you hear the pain of not being able to provide for your family.

Neither Ahmad’s article nor the Confess Project’s website directly address toxic masculinity and the ways that men’s mental health issues are often extremely dangerous to the people around them, especially women and children. Nonetheless, the name “Confess Project” is double-edged, carrying an implication of “confess the harm you’ve done” as well as “confess that you’re struggling.” Lewis drew the name from the Christian use of “confession,” an act of releasing yourself in order to heal and become better.   Certainly, encouraging men to air their troubles in a safe space is one step towards discouraging men from lashing out at the people below them in the hierarchy.

The project is not to turn barbers into therapists; rather to teach barbers what to watch for, and how to respond. “Barbers can serve as first responders, Lewis says, offering support to clients and talking about self-care. They can also serve as trusted guides to therapists and support organizations that are culturally sensitive.”

They are also paying attention to what is needed to increase impact.

The organization has also begun an ambassador program, which teaches barbers in a particular state or region how to train other barbers to be active listeners, provide emotional support to their clients and serve as a segue to mental health services, allowing the project to scale up more quickly.

We are firm believers that mental health and physical health are not separate things, that the mind is an integral part of the body (and vice versa). We also believe that taking concepts and services people need to where people are, instead of demanding that people come to unfamiliar places to try to do frightening things. We wish success to Lewis, the Confess Project, and all of the barbers doing good work while they give good haircuts.


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