Why Kanye’s ‘abortion tweet’ was ill-conceived

african kings

Kanye West has stirred up a firestorm on Twitter again. Just when you thought it was safe, Kanye tweeted “An abortion can cost a ballin’ n**ga up to 50gs maybe a 100. Gold diggin’ b**ches be getting pregnant on purpose. #STRAPUP my n**gas!” Wednesday night.

Kanye has been grilled for his tweet, especially as it pertains to abortion, one of the most sensitive issues in our nation’s history. But, sadly, though Kanye references abortion in his tweet, more than likely he didn’t even think twice about that issue. He and many of his followers who so eagerly re-tweeted him were most likely concentrating on the so-called “gold diggin’ b**ches.”

Houston, we have a serious problem in the black community, especially among a certain urban set. Somehow, abortion is not always treated like the serious, life-impacting decision it should be. Let’s be clear, even if you are a woman who is pro-choice and supports a woman’s right to choose, if that decision faces you, it’s not one to be taken lightly. And yet it is in so many communities, especially represented by much of black popular culture. For example, comedian Corey Holcomb is well-known for his joke about having bootleg pregnancy tests. The premise is all tests are positive. So, when a woman presents it to her intended mark, she can prove she is pregnant and collect money for the abortion that she will use to pay her rent or another expense.

Sadly, abortion, or rather the threat of abortion is often viewed as a get rich quick scheme or some sort of urban lottery. Sometimes the people who make jest of it or those who must resort to such means ignore the fact that abortion is an issue that affects a woman’s body and this is at the heart of the politics of who controls it. They think little of women like Faye Wattleton who once headed Planned Parenthood and has stood at the frontlines fighting for all women but especially black women and their right to choose. There is currently a billboard in Lower Manhattan in New York right now from the pro-life organization Life Always that reads: “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”

When people like Kanye West talk cavalierly about abortion and, worst yet, when women seriously use it for the wrong reasons, it encourages organizations like this to obscure the very real circumstances where a woman might actually be placed in a position to choose abortion. As much as our community loves The Color Purple in its many forms, we don’t seem to connect the trials and tribulations of Celie to this day and age. Celie, though a minor, might actually seek refuge at a place like Planned Parenthood where she could freely decide for herself whether to exercise her right to choose either way.

In many of our minds, it’s hard to relate to images of a back-alley abortions (like the one portrayed in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls) because when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, we are so far removed from the days in which those horrific procedures were commonplace.

Thanks to much of the popular mainstream media, we see abortion as primarily the battleground for white women. We never hear about the black women who died from coat hanger abortions. Somehow we do not connect that kind of history to our lives. We don’t realize that there were also black women who have fought and made it possible for black women, especially those living in poverty, be it in urban or rural communities, to exercise control over their own bodies.

It’s not a stretch to say that Kanye entertained none of this when he sent his tweet into the Twitter-verse. All he probably thought about was how an unintended pregnancy in his life (though he tweeted he’s never personally experienced this) might affect his pockets. At the end day of the day, an artist of his stature should bear greater responsibility and look beyond his individual needs. There are women who still who can’t afford to take control of their bodies. Without certain organizations, they would have no recourse and no resources.

When it comes to issues of this magnitude and people with Kanye’s fame, they really should stop and think before they tweet because the world really is bigger than just them.