The above image is of a billboard that has been put up in the state of Arkansas by Arkansas Right to Life, a pro-life organization, and other national pro-life organizations. While Arkansas Right to Life and other pro-life organizations are well within their right to put up this message that speaks against the outrageous number of Black babies being aborted each year, I think that they have overstepped the standards of decency in the way in which they have elected to convey their message. Having “Black & Unwanted” and the picture of the face of a Black baby underneath it can cause many to think that this is a racist billboard. Personally, I am pro-life and am familiar with national Right to Life organizations, including Arkansas Right to Life, and I know that the dominant membership that composes these organizations is not racist. While I am sure that the billboard was well-intentioned, I contend that this particular billboard should be taken down by Arkansas Right to Life and the other national pro-life organizations who paid for it.
I do strongly agree with these pro-life organizations about the need to dramatically reduce the horrible number of Black babies that are being aborted annually. Arkansas Right to Life should have selected more racially and culturally sensitive language to convey a tremendously vital message. When one thinks about the specific racist history of the state of Arkansas (a state that I happen to love so dearly), the fact that Arkansas Right to Life and most other pro-life organizations are composed primarily of White people, and that “Black and Unwanted” brings many African-Americans’ memories back to the days of Jim and Jane Crow, it becomes a really easy decision to remove the billboard. While I am sure that Arkansas Right to Life wanted to “push the envelope,” and Revolutionary Paideia can certainly appreciate you for being willing to “push the envelope”), I think that this particular billboard does not communicate the type of message that is ultimately beneficial for pro-lifers’ cause.
As pro-lifers, we do not have to rely on highly controversial language and tactics to spread our message—we only need to disseminate the facts. All we need to do is give people the numbers about how many abortions occur annually. This billboard would have been more effective by simply listing how many Black babies have been aborted to date. When we resort to such unsophisticated tactics and language, this is why people have a general proclivity to put us in a box as not being sophisticated people. We are more talented, sensitive, non-racist, and decent than what this billboard suggests. This is why I have to call for the removal of this billboard and for Arkansas Right to Life to replace it with a billboard that simply gives Black people the facts about how many Black babies have been aborted. People cannot argue with facts, but they certainly can argue with language that can seem to be offensive at best.
I know that the issue of abortion is highly controversial and is an issue that deeply divides Americans. I do, however, think that we all can agree to work together to dramatically decrease the number of abortions in America. Again, as a pro-lifer, I call for Arkansas Right to Life to remove this billboard immediately—this will be a move in the best interest of our cause!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison