By Elizabeth Bassett
This poem responds to “Conceptualizing Reproductive Justice Theory” in Radical Reproductive Justice by Loretta Ross.
What does freedom
Really mean when we can’t hear it
Over the manufacturing equipment
We call women’s bodies?
They shouldn’t malfunction,
Miscarry or abort.
Because what are you doing in this business anyway?
Manufacturers should supply and
Belong to the markets.
White people, white movements, white feminism
Pro-life white, pro-choice white
Just do the right thing
The markets tell a twelve-year-old Black girl
What she ought to do for a baby
When no one feels they ought to do anything for her
Or her baby but
She is her mother’s baby
The baby of her grandmother’s baby.
So stop pretending
A twelve year old cornered into birthing
Isn’t child labor.
You made laws about that
*see the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
What does freedom really mean
When investors talk morals
But have stake in the manufacturing of
Only white babies?
A Black girl has metasystems tangled around her throat
The “it’s more wrong to abort than it is to
Assault a child” is just the beginning of the
Conspiracy of silence
Of legal dependents— “your children and wives”—
White supremacist descendants
And Roe v. Wade precedents that come crashing down around Strategic ignorance disguised as Privacy
Independence is for the state.
And anyways, the demands for a Black baby are low.
It’s on you for supplying
We were wrong
We are wrong
We are wrong
The child is no manufacturer of babies
She is a producer of knowledge
Feed her theory and she invents
And destroys the industry
Read to her some bedtime myths
Recite to her some human rights
To fuel her dreams and mobilize her friends
Into a universal gravitation towards Ubuntu
And far, far away from the universal absolutes
That cage her in.
White people struggle to understand
Being a woman isn’t so bad!
I can do whatever I want
I can be a career woman if I want
And that movie about the Black women who worked for NASA? See, you can do anything
If you lean in and become empowered enough,
Have children only if you want to
I have the Paraguard till twenty thirty-two
But I’m pro-choice because
My feminism is painted with only pastels,
It’s the pretty-headstrong type of pretty and
Pretty water colors don’t produce purple
So I couldn’t personally understand Ross’ print
My disconnect is child labor laws that protected my youth
That let me play before I produce
So while I stand behind my white woman fence
That stops me from relating
Black women are busy innovating, creating,
And building with no such
Because Reproductive Justice
Pulls barriers up by the root.