I read this article about the amazing Serena Williams over the weekend. Simply, I am enraged. Not just for Williams, who I deeply sympathize with as a mother who has just recently delivered a baby, but I’m also screaming at the top of my lungs for every mother we have. To quote the article (which you must read):
With a shockingly high maternal-mortality rate (several times the levels of other rich countries), Williams’s story will likely sound familiar to many women and all the more to black American women, who are three times more likely to die or suffer serious illness from pregnancy-related causes than white women, with at least 40 deaths per 100,000 live births on average, compared to 14 for white mothers.
I’ve written about these statistics before, here. What kind of shithole country lets this happen? America, that’s which one. This nation has the resources to level the proverbial playing field, and it refuses to. This isn’t a problem with money. It’s a problem with priority.
Women, and the rights of all people, who aren’t The Default have never been given priority. The very best option women have had is usually as Object. Something interesting to look at, but not something you’d devote real resources to. Politically, we have spent the last two hundred and forty-odd years selfishly protecting the rights of men. It turns out, that’s what the great experiment is – how long and how effectively can we make sure that straight white men take priority?
Right now, we have two Americas. One where a racist, misogynistic bigot who is also either deeply mentally damaged or simply a spoiled man-child is president, and the rights of straight white men are not in jeopardy in the least (particularly if they are wealthy). The other is the Upside Down, and that’s where all the rest of us are. Best I can tell, the president would like to cut ties with the Upside Down, rather than fix the problems that caused it in the first place.
As I’ve said before, the big problems aren’t the only problems. Yes, it’s a huge problem when the government makes it difficult or impossible for women to get birth control. But we are also each living with a thousand paper cuts. Statistically, if I can get a couple bandaids for my papercuts, my black counterparts can’t even get in the door of the pharmacy.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day.