Monday, February 13, 2012

Out of Context

"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population." -- Margaret Sanger
The quote above has been used by anti-choice proponents in an effort paint Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, as a racist bent on eliminating African-Americans. This is echoed by the current campaign to portray reproductive rights as an attack on the African-American community.

The truth, however, is quite different. Here is the part of the quote that is not often included:
"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."
So, in context, the quote might mean something very different:
According to New York University's Margaret Sanger Papers Project, Sanger, in writing that letter, "recognized that elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow South, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim."
This is not at all to say that Sanger's views on race were not problematic to say the least -- she was certainly a product of a time which viewed people of colour as lesser peoples -- but even here her views were not conventional:

Sanger believed that lighter-skinned races were superior to darker-skinned races, but would not tolerate bigotry among her staff, nor any refusal to work within interracial projects. Her contemporaries in the African-American community supported her efforts. In 1929, James H. Hubert, a black social worker and leader of New York's Urban League, asked Sanger to open a clinic in Harlem. Sanger secured funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund and opened the clinic, staffed with African-American doctors, in 1930. The clinic was directed by a 15-member advisory board consisting of African-American doctors, nurses, clergy, journalists, and social workers. The clinic was publicized in the African-American press and African-American churches, and received the approval of W. E. B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP. Sanger's work with minorities earned praise from Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1966 acceptance speech for the Margaret Sanger award.
So, why are we writing about this issue?

Well, it looks like racists have decided to misquote Margaret Sanger. However instead of using this quote in an effort to condemn Sanger, they are using it in an effort to praise her:

But even this is instructive since it provides yet another window into the dark soul of the people we cover here.

While Sanger was not interested in the extermination of African-Americans, there are those who really would like such a genocide to happen. And we doubt that they would use abortion to achieve this goal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Besler is such a sad, sad guy.