changes begins with caring

The protests of the 1960s have come to fruition. After centuries of some assuming an inherent right to all the plum positions, this election guaranteed evidence of that change – no matter which party won.

In the ‘60s, blacks and women insisted each deserved a place at the table of leadership. Since then, changes have emerged, culminating in last week’s celebration of the inauguration of the first African-American president, Barack Obama.

But it is not enough. If Obama wants to release blacks to realize even more accomplishments, he should renege on his promise to support legislation such as the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), a proposed federal law that he said, “would bar government – at any level – from interfering with a woman’s fundamental right to choose to bear a child, or to terminate a pregnancy.”

Ironically, in the 1960s as we slowly turned away from repressing African-Americans and other minority groups, we found another set of humans to repress, de-humanize and hinder from their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness: The unseen and unheard – the unborn.

This most vulnerable of groups in America receives the rejection, abuse and prejudice once blithely heaped on blacks and other minorities. Over the last three decades more than 50 million people never had a chance to raise their voice – let alone a poster-board sign – in protest.

For them and all those who will follow during his administration, President Barack Obama promised no change – only a continuation of the course set 36 years ago this month.

If he holds to that campaign promise, he gives assent to an even more pervasive assault on blacks in the United States than segregation ever achieved.

If President Obama upholds his campaign promises regarding the safety of the not yet seen Americans, he joins all those who turned away from the pain and repression inflicted on African-Americans for generations. Statistically, African-Americans are 35 percent of the population, yet the abortion ratio for black women (472 per 1,000 live births) is 2.9 times higher than the ratio for white women (161 per 1,000). In other words, nearly half of all pregnancies among black women end in abortion while just 16 percent of pregnancies among white women end in abortion, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Since 1973 we have lost 17 million black children, making abortion the number one killer of black people, according to Day Gardner, the head of the National Black Pro-Life Union.

“On behalf of the children I implore you – the campaigner for change – to change that,” Gardner said.

But women who have rights to their bodies protest the pro-choice voices. They echo the insistent voice speaking to the Lorax in Dr. Seuss’s book: “Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do!”

And millions upon millions have done just that – refusing to hear the (paraphrased response) from the Lorax, “I speak for these children … and I’m asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs, please stop and consider those you hurt.”

We continue to justify our actions as a right and cling to our prejudicial, overused label of these unseen persons as mere “fetuses,” just as our nation once corroborated our treatment of African-Americans with demeaning, derogatory names signifying their place as “less than equal.”

After centuries of turning away from the assaults on blacks and other minority groups, we woke up and demanded change. For these who come to life under the destructive ax of prejudice, laws continue unchanged and “the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at





2 responses to “changes begins with caring”

  1. jottingjoan Avatar

    Noticed as winner

    This column won third place for Column writing on hard news in the APME contest. I am rather pleased that the editor remembered this column and kept it back all year for the contest. And that it won recognition in the state contest.
    Thus far, NONE of my family oriented columns have received APME recognition. But my hard news columns have. Winning is not everything, but it certainly is a pleasant experience to be noticed.

  2. jottingjoan Avatar

    This also won third place for column hard news in the APA Arkansas Press Association as a political column.