The Production of Babies

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?

Factories supply.

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

Global capitalist

Legislative reluctance

Hyde Amendments

Classist resentments

Of legal dependents— “your children and wives”—

White supremacist descendants

Anti-CRT Superintendents

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

And producing.

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 humanity

And far, far away from the universal absolutes

That cage her in.

White people struggle to understand

What’s wrong?

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

Accidents happen.

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

Not really.

Not fully.

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.

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