Planned Parenthood celebrates journalists and Missouri abortion providers at the 2019 Media Excellence Awards.
On Monday evening, we gathered with other writers, journalists, and activists at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Media (PPFA) Excellence Awards to celebrate our Managing Editor, Sherronda J. Brown, as she received an award for her article, “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ And The Reproductive Rights Movement’s White Supremacy Problem.”
For 40 years, the PPFA Media Excellence Awards have recognized “exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of reproductive rights and sexual health issues, including abortion, contraception, sex education, health care equity, HIV, LGBTQ identities, sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault, and international family planning,” and we are honored that work featured at Wear Your Voice will now be counted among them.
“At a time when 12 states have passed abortion bans that leave access to health care for millions hanging in the balance, the work of journalists to uncover the truth and provide accurate information about reproductive rights, health, and justice is more crucial than ever. We are so thankful for their fearless and honest reporting about what is at risk when people are denied one of their most fundamental human rights — their access to health care. We are also honored to recognize our courageous leaders and providers in Missouri. We know this fight isn’t over. We must continue to sound the alarm because we are in a state of emergency for women’s health in America. Together, we will continue to fight in the courts and beyond to protect access to abortion care for all Missourians and people all across the country,” said Melanie Roussell Newman, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Culture.
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The awarded piece takes a look at the little-acknowledged history of racialized reproductive violences in the U.S., identifying Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the Margaret Atwood novel it is based on as texts which draw upon this history without properly recognizing it. Through her analysis, Brown indicts the contemporary Reproductive Rights Movement as one too often still influenced by white supremacy.
“[W]hite feminism has a reputation for ignoring oppressions until cis white women become affected by them, and reproductive violences are no exception.
The popularity of and discourse surrounding ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is indicative of this neglect. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, the series and its subject matter resonate with those who work to combat rape culture and support bodily, sexual, and reproductive autonomy. The systematic sexual and reproductive violences on the show terrify those who view the story as a future dystopian (im)possibility for whiteness, when it is in fact a historical ghost for Black people who were enslaved.”
The realities of race and reproductive matters, especially how state intervention and white interests impact Black people, is a topic Brown considers exceedingly important to understanding our history and she repeatedly explores it in her work for Wear Your Voice, as she did with “The Racist Roots of Gynecology & What Black Women Birthed” and “Reproductive Control is About Far More Than ‘Women’s Bodies’.” These are things she plans to continue to interrogate in her writing because she believes that keeping history matters as much as working towards progress.
Our upcoming Reproductive Justice series will continue to highlight those who have been left out of the reproductive rights discourse because we believe that progress cannot be made without focusing on the most marginalized communities.
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