As we absorb the news of the Supreme Court’s abolishment of the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade, many people are rightfully disturbed by polarization gripping the nation. But, I believe we can and must find places of common ground to break the cycle of advance and retreat.
Everyone wants “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” right? But, to attain those ideals as true conditions, we need to acknowledge the impact of racism, sexism, violence, and plantation capitalism in nearly every facet of American life even as we’ve advocated for democracy.
We grieve over homelessness, but ignore the poverty, racism, domestic violence, lack of medical care and affordable housing that lies at the root. We judge or ignore from afar when it’s help that is needed.
Last month, I talked with Pastor James Lawson and Attorney Bryan Stevenson on KCET about these “four spiritual poisons that hurt us today.” The intersectionality of these poisons are reflected in the history of a women’s right to control her body.
Writing in the New York Times, Michele Goodwin states that the court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade, “means the erasure of Black Women from the Constitution.” She reminds us of the violence that enslaved women endured when their lives were considered “property” of the plantation owner.
“Masters” could rape women and girls without consequence. Compounding the crime, the progeny of the “master” were “for-profit commodities.” Goodwin cites a Virginia “slave law” determining that the mother’s race, not the father’s, decided whether the child was free or enslaved.
White fathers could legally continue to produce their own revenue stream – so much for family values. Racism, sexism, violence and plantation capitalism were all protected by the court – so much for the law as a protector of human rights.
Fast forward to 2022 and we see efforts to disenfranchise voters based on race and income, violence in the nation’s capital, and a court ruling that will, without a doubt, endanger the lives of poor women throughout the country.
Sohrab Ahmari, Patrick Deneen and Chad Pecknold, also writing in the New York Times, say the primary goal of the Federalist Society becoming a pipeline for conservative judges on the federal bench was less about issues like abortion and more about supporting economic deregulation to benefit corporations. Either way, the culture wars are being used in service to a system enriching a few on the backs of the many.
But I leave you with the words of one person who saw the Lawson/Stevenson conversation who said, “I have been feeling so disheartened and angry. Listening to this interview reminded me that the road to justice and equality is a long one. To echo your guests, I won’t give in to anger and will decide to stand on the side of love and justice.” I hope you will too.
Watch Bonnie Boswell Presents: A Conversation with Pastor James Lawson and Attorney Bryan Stevenson:www.kcet.org/bonnieboswellreports