Every community has its collective memories, joyous and horrid, and every significant public act has a way of being absorbed by, folded into, a community's collective memory in some lasting way. This is why the billboards lining Atlanta's highways, at least 80 of them picturing terrified-looking black boys under the banner Black Children Are an Endangered Species is remarkably vicious.
The advertisements have been placed by Georgia Right-to- Life on the specious idea that Black women exercising their rights under Roe v Wade are committing cultural immolation, a slow communal suicide. For many in that city's black community the memory of the 1979-'81 serial murders of 29 Black boys is painfully alive. For an anti-abortion organization to play on those collective memories so perversely is both breathtakingly irresponsible and a deliberate undermining of reality for ideological ends.
It is true that Georgia's Black women have more abortions per capita than in any state save Mississippi. The Centers for Disease Control in reporting that, however, also says unequivocally that Black children are no more unusually endangered than any other children because the fertility rate (births per 1,000 women) among Black women is higher than the national average and is growing.
In other words, Choice Works, individually, collectively.
Yet the Lying-By-Numbers isn't the worst of it.
The worst aspect of this is the implication that Black mothers are either neglectful of a presumed duty or, perhaps even worse, that they are dupes of pro-choice, largely white, liberal-owned clinics--that Black women have no minds of their own. The fact is that as far back as the 1930's Atlanta's Black community approached Planned Parenthood founders asking for help because they knew that birth control was one way of clawing up from slavery-induced inter-generational poverty. This happened in Black communities throughout the country.
Of course, it's legal for Georgia Right to Life to post pretty much any inflammatorily inaccurate billboard it wants anywhere zoning allows. That it's legal hardly means it's honest or decent. It's neither.
I would ask this of my own community:
How might Jews react to an evangelical missionary organization throwing up stark billboards across Chicago, Detroit, Washington, LA, New York, and in, say, Philadelphia, featuring frightened faces of small Jewish boys and girls, terrified because Jewish adults are systematically hiding from our children the alleged truth of their potential salvation...and under the banner Jewish Children Are An Endangered Species?
Our own collective memories might then kick in, too.