In June of 1960, the first form of oral birth control was approved by the FDA. This “Pill” was known as Enovid, and was now available for prescription use in America. The Lady Science No. 12, Searching for Racial and Sexual Justice in Reproductive Rights, wrote a detailed essay about black women trying to receive this medication, and the racism and suppression from white males, white females, and even black men. While white women despised black women using this drug and being able to choose when to decide on their own birth, black men actually called on black women to not use the Pill and continue to birth thousands of black men to fight for the cause of African Americans, essentially telling the women to become baby factories.
What really surprised me about the article was the way black women were treated regarding this fertility situation back in the 60s and 70s. It was alarming how in the South, hundreds of thousands of women were sterilized by force of coercion. This is only 50 years ago – absolute insanity! Just as surprisingly, black women rose out of this involuntary oppression and never stopped fighting for their rights as women and African Americans. Eventually, many prominent black women leaders formed National Councils and Alliances to fight back for their rights. I was not surprised that these women were able to overcome their oppression; for nothing can stop the human spirit if it is just. When countless people stand up together and say “enough is enough” (channeling my inner Bernie Sanders), nothing cannot be changed if the passion and need for change is there – and it certainly was and still is for black women.
It’d be interesting to do some further research on this and find the leaders of these movements (if they’re still around), and garner personal accounts of their fights for reproductive rights in the 60s and 70s. I imagine their memories would be incredibly powerful, exhibiting courage and persistence. Lastly, if I could ask the authors of this paper one question, I’d most likely ask them what the inspiration was behind their research on the subject. Were there parents or grandparents apart of the reproductive rights movement? Was their family personally affected by the oppression against black women in the 60s and 70s? These are very basic questions, but I often wonder where the inspiration was forged, how they researched the subject matter, and how they now feel after learning the truth.