Last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v. Wade was a massive blow to reproductive rights and a direct attack on the health and safety of women, people with uteruses and basic human rights. This ruling will affect all people, however, Black people stand to be disproportionately impacted by the court's ruling. According to the Guttmayer Institute, most abortions in the United States are obtained by people of color (37 percent Black, 22 percent Hispanic and 8 percent "Other," meaning Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and those of mixed race). This is coupled with the number of people who die during childbirth. A 2020 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report states the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black people was more than 55 deaths per 100,000 live births — almost three times the rate for non-Hispanic white people. The rate for Black people increases with age (13.8 deaths per 100,000 for people under age 25; 22.8 for those aged 25-39; and 107.9 for those aged 40 and over). Separately, these statistics are alarming; together, these rates amplify the crisis of reproductive health of Black people.
The future of our inalienable rights hangs in the balance. The overturning of Roe v. Wade appears to be an ominous foreshadowing of other attacks that may lie ahead. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court appears to have its sights on reversing other laws our country has fought hard to set in place. In his concurring opinion of the Roe v. Wade overturning, Justice Clarence Thomas hinted at the need to revisit same-sex marriage and birth control rulings. We must take action.
Step into your power. Identify your areas of influence and step into them. It is all right to be nervous and even scared. Lean into it. Run for office. Step into a leadership role. Support current leaders and organizations doing the work and celebrating our culture, beauty and strength. Donate your time and/or your money to organizations that align with your values. There's no need to reinvent the wheel — seek out groups and organizations already doing the work. Connect with Eureka NAACP, Centro de Pueblo, HAPI (Humboldt Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity), Planned Parenthood and Cooperation Humboldt.
The fight can sometimes be daunting. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is essential to focus on joy and well-being — we are here to be glorious, not solely to fight. Tap into the resources from Black Humboldt and HC Black Music and Arts Association to cultivate your emotional health while doing this work.
Complacency is a convenience we can no longer lean on. Change rarely occurs overnight. It takes work and time, but the reward makes the effort worth it. Time to work! Time to fight! We can do it — together.
Sharonne Blanck (she/her) is the Eureka NAACP president.
Lorna Bryant (she/her) is the Eureka
NAACP media coordinator.