The War on Black Women

Higher Heights for America, an organization working “to expand and support Black women’s leadership pipeline at all levels and strengthen their civic participation,” has published a new report, “Black Women’s Response to the War on Women.”  Lest anyone think that the war on women isn’t real, is only about reproductive rights, or is only about white women, this report provides crucial context and data.

Here’s the abstract:

“In the sixteen months between the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold these provisions, anti-choice legislators waged a war on women, seeking to roll back women’s rights. This is especially important for Black women who are overwhelmingly impacted by the proposed policies and whose voices are routinely drowned out of the discussion. In this critical election cycle, Higher Heights for America seeks to insert Black women’s perspective into the national narrative on the “War on Women”. This report provides a snapshot of the country’s nearly 22 million Black women, exploring their alarming health and socio-economic status as well as their growing political and economic influence, and offers suggestions on how to increase the involvement of these women in the policy debates that most impact their quality of life.”

We shouldn’t have to “insert black women’s perspective into the national narrative” … we should always and at every moment be aware of the complexity of the very concept of “woman.”  And yet, it must be done.   Because of what isn’t being done.

“The report addresses a wide array of topics, and notes in its summary other areas worthy of consideration:”The “War on Women” is particularly harmful to Black women. In addition to attacks on Black women’s health care, economic, and voting rights, there are also considerable attacks that were not referenced in this paper but include fundamental protections in the Violence Against Women Act, access to affordable higher education, Social Security and Medicare – all of which have a disproportionate effect on Black women. Legislators consistently add Black women only as an afterthought in policy discussions. They help ensure then, that Black women are located at the bottom of the hierarchy, discouraging any level of civic engagement, eliminating their role in determining factors impacting their own lives, and endangering an entire portion of the electorate by drowning their right to be heard.”

Go.  Read it.  Now.

About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

  • Kim Hampton

    As long as “white” is default/normative, there will continue to be a need for this type of information and organization.


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