On Tuesday, Star Parker, founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), along with several anti-choice organizations, will hold a press conference to discuss the impact of the Kermit Gosnell case on Black America, in what will surely be yet another opportunity for the “fetus first” crowd to wring their hands and feign concern about the plight of Black Americans.
The Gosnell lawsuit fallout has been a boondoggle for fetus enthusiasts. The fact that Gosnell is Black and that he was serving a predominantly Black community has led to the expected rhetorical boxing match: Anti-choicers cast Planned Parenthood as monstrous perpetrators of Black genocide who have set up shop in “the ‘hood” to ethnically cleanse Black people out of existence, while those of us who reside in the reality-based world counterpunch with facts and statistics about how, in fact, only one in ten abortion clinics are located in predominantly Black communities.
Black genocide simply isn’t a thing that is happening in the United States, though this meme has been floating around anti-choice circles for years. White anti-choice organizations failed to make it stick, so they enlisted a handful of Black folks to help spread the message in the Black community in what Paris Hatcher, director of Spark Reproductive NOW, calls “tokenized leaders within a White movement floating an agenda.”
Who better to float the white anti-choice agenda than Star Parker, with a helpful assist from white-backed anti-choice organizations like Protecting Black Life (which is a front for the very white and very conservative Life Issues Institute, founded by Dr. Jack Willke). After all, Parker used to be one of those “welfare queens” that President Reagan warned everyone about, before she reinvented herself as a conservative author and speaker and president of an organization purportedly dedicated to “jumpstarting a national dialogue on race and poverty.”
Remember when Ann Coulter claimed “our Blacks are better than their Blacks?” Star Parker is one of those “good Blacks.” She’s so good, that in her capacity as president of an “urban renewal” organization, she dutifully parrots lies popularized by conservative white anti-choicers. Here’s Parker writing for Town Hall, with commentary appended:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, blacks accounted for 35.4 percent of abortions performed in 2009, despite representing, according to the 2010 census, just 13.6 percent of the US population.
Let’s not be deluded that this is an accident.
Analysis of 2010 census data by an initiative called Protecting Black Life shows that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are located in walking distance of minority neighborhoods – 62 percent within 2 miles of primarily black neighborhoods and 64 percent of Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods. [The claim that most abortion clinics are in Black and Latino neighborhoods is false and does not become more true the more you repeat it. -Ed.]
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, systematically targets minority women for abortion. [No it doesn't. -Ed.]
In 1957, Mike Wallace interviewed Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and asked her if she believed in sin.
Sanger, whose racist and eugenicist views are well documented, replied, “I believe the biggest sin in the world is parents bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they are born.” [The "Margaret Sanger was a racist and eugenicist" canard has been debunked, repeatedly. Stop it. -Ed.]
It is a sign of these dismally confused times that it was our first black president, Barack Obama, who, last week, became the first sitting American president to address Planned Parenthood.
In his address, the President did not use the word “abortion” once, nor was there a single reference to the current trial and murder charges against Philadelphia abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell. [Abortions comprise 3 percent of the health services that Planned Parenthood offers; moreover, Gosnell's clinic does not represent the sort of abortion care that is legal or that Planned Parenthood (or any pro-choice activists, for that matter) supports or offers. -Ed.]
You’d think he was addressing Ronald McDonald House, not an organization that provided 333,964 abortions last year, disproportionately on black women. [Or you'd think he was addressing an organization that provides much-needed and overwhelmingly not-abortion-related health-care services to communities, including low-income Black communities, that desperately need such services because of conservative economic and social policies. -Ed.]
President Obama, you see, doesn’t care about Black women or the plight of Black urban America. Star Parker and her “urban renewal” organization, on the other hand, do. Or so they would have you believe. A review of CURE’s advisory board roster, however, tells a different story.
John Ashcroft—yes, that John Ashcroft—is on CURE’s advisory board. John Ashcroft is well-known for being the songbird attorney general during the Bush administration who taught Americans how to properly fear Muslims. Before that, however, Ashcroft served as attorney general for the state of Missouri, where he bravely fought tooth and nail to keep St. Louis and Kansas City schools segregated. So bravely did he fight against school desegregation, that the official supervising the racial integration plan called him “obstructionist.” In addition, Harvard professor Gary Orfield said that Ashcroft “had no positive vision and constantly stirred up racial divisions” over the issue, ultimately calling Ashcroft “an unrelenting opponent of doing anything in St. Louis.” A man who opposes “doing anything” in underserved communities is just the sort of guy we need to help poverty-stricken urban areas, wouldn’t you agree?
Ed Meese, emeritus fellow for the Heritage Foundation (well-known for its work in fighting racial and social injustice) also sits on CURE’s advisory board. Meese, you may recall, was Reagan’s attorney general. Meese famously tried to convince Reagan to block the extension of the Voting Rights Act. And later, Meese actually convinced Reagan to grant tax exempt status to Bob Jones University, a school that proudly practiced racial discrimination and refused to allow interracial dating on campus until 2000. With such pro-Black bona fides, of course Ed Meese is the perfect person to develop social policies that will help urban minorities.
And then there’s Michael Medved, the Grand Wizard of the advisory board. Medved subscribes to the most virulent white supremacist theory about genetics and intelligence. Back in 2007, Medved explained that Black Americans simply didn’t display the sort of risk-taking that European immigrants did when they journeyed to the United States. I reckon Black folks were just too stupid to not get themselves snatched up by white slave traders. He also seems to think that slavery wasn’t that bad because, essentially, a dead slave is a useless slave—a position that ought to endear him in the hearts of the urban Black folks that CURE claims it wants to help.
Ashcroft, Meese, and Medved are but a handful of the conservabros that are overseeing CURE’s putative urban renewal efforts. That far-right conservatives who proudly espouse racist views sit on the advisory board of an organization that lists “jumpstarting a national dialogue on race and poverty” as one of its goals is as funny as it is preposterous. Star Parker doesn’t care about Black women or Black women’s health care. If she did, she would support Black women’s access to a full range of health-care services, including contraception, prenatal care, AIDS prevention, and abortion. She would support more funding for public assistance programs like SNAP. She would advocate more funding for Medicaid and Title IX. You want to renew the urban core, Star? Focus on education, jobs, affordable housing and, yes, healthcare, including reproductive healthcare.
But Star would rather be the new star of the far-right conservative movement than do anything that might actually help her people. And so at tomorrow’s press conference, Parker will lead a group of conservatives and anti-choicers in a group pearl-clutching over the Gosnell trial. They will complain, despite documented evidence to the contrary, that the media has been complicit in a coordinated media blackout about Gosnell, his crimes, and his trial. They will lament the “murder” of Black babies by “evil” Planned Parenthood. They will claim that the solution to Gosnell and the Black abortion rate is no abortion ever. They will do their damnedest to pretend to care about Black women without doing anything that might actually help Black women, like trusting Black women to make their own reproductive health choices and trusting Black women to speak for themselves. But most of all, they will push their anti-choice agendas by repackaging the same white conservative policies in Black urban wrapping paper in the hopes that Black people won’t know the difference.
But we do know the difference. We know that the answer to the Black abortion rate is more choice and more access to quality care. We know that the answer to Gosnell is not fewer abortions, but better abortion care. We know that banning abortion will not end abortion, but rather will drive abortion underground and into back alleys, where clinics like Gosnell’s will pop up like payday loan shops.
And where will the likes of John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, and Michael Medved be when that happens? Probably tut-tutting to one another about Martin Luther King being a Republican, and how much better life was for Black folks before the Emancipation Proclamation.