Anglicans Against Apartheid
Katha Pollitt’s "Postcards From Cape Town" ["Subject to Debate," Nov. 15] mentions apartheid-compliant Anglican clerics. Many Anglicans were out front in the civil organization against apartheid for decades. Father Trevor Huddleston, who came to work in Sophiatown in 1943 and was made president of the antiapartheid movement in 1981, is the most notable example of their active conscience, which leads directly to Bishop Desmond Tutu’s high-profile presence.
Black Women Fight Back
Thanks to Melissa Harris-Perry for "To Whom Apologies Are Really Due," which places Virginia Thomas’s request for an apology from Anita Hill into historical perspective ["Sister Citizen," Nov. 15]. The good news is that alongside the persistent vilification of black women Harris-Perry recounts, there is an equally long history of resistance. Hill stands in a continuous line of women who have fended off assaults and refuted the stereotype of immorality, from the slave known as Celia to Rosa Lee Ingram to Dessie Woods, to name a few. Until that strand of resistance is woven into our national narrative, conservatives will peddle myths and half-truths that serve their ends.
Just as Clarence Thomas resorted to a skewed account of lynching that overlooks sexual violence against black women, the antiabortion movement today spins a twisted tale that sidesteps black women’s realities. The religious right is waging an "endangered species" campaign, alleging that a genocidal conspiracy proceeded inexorably from slavery to lynching to eugenics to legalized abortion. This warped argument portrays black women as dupes of white elites and profit-driven abortion providers rather than as moral agents who negotiate economic inequalities and discriminatory policies to make difficult reproductive decisions.
Black women are fighting back. When the "endangered species" campaign targeted Atlanta recently, Loretta Ross, Dázon Dixon Diallo, Paris Hatcher and supporters from SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, SisterLove and SPARK stood them down in the streets and in the legislature. They defeated legislation that would criminalize abortion as a coercive, racially motivated procedure. These leaders have formed Trust Black Women and rallied allies like Toni Bond Leonard, Barbara Smith, Faye Wattleton, Angela Davis and the Black Women’s Health Imperative to challenge the campaign in other states (sistersong.et/trust_black_women.html). The sooner we heed these voices from the front lines, the sooner we’ll get behind a reproductive justice agenda grounded in the truth— all of it.
Cape Elizabeth, Me.