Echo chambers of white privilege? | Responding to memes

I recently encountered the following on social media:

Protestor with sign expressing a false accusation, unless the word “you” is singular and addressed to a specific person who believes that only white, healthy, non-impoverished babies have a right to life.

In an attempt to be charitable to the protestor, I will assume he or she truly believes what the sign says. That can only be possible for someone who lives in a bubble of white privilege, an echo chamber in which one does not actually encounter many (if any) people with divergent views, or people of other races, with disabilities, etc.

There is thinly viewed racism in what the protestor may have meant to be an accusation of racism against white pro-life advocates. The racist assumption is that no blacks and no Mexicans are pro-life. This could not be further from the truth.

I live in an area where I am increasingly at a disadvantage because I don’t speak Spanish. According to the 2020 census figures, the nearby city is 77% Hispanic, and the majority are from Mexico. At least one of the local pro-life groups is headed up by a Hispanic woman. At one of the local parishes, Mexican women gather often to pray for an end to abortion — for all babies. Obviously the white protestor holding the sign doesn’t live in a community like mine, or he/she would know of the strong pro-life and pro-family ethos among many Mexican women.

It is through conversations with Black women that I learned of Planned Parenthood’s racist origins (as far as I know, the organization has never repudiated their racist founder, Margaret Sanger) and what some view as a racist ethos that continues to this day.

To ignore the pro-life voices coming from the Mexican and Black communities is, at best, ignorance born from the privilege of living in a bubble populated only by people of similar beliefs and ethnicity. I would suggest that the protestor needs to venture out of his/her safe zone and actually engage with people before making assumptions about them.

Equally offensive, if not more so, is the accusation that people who hold the pro-life position only believe that some babies have a right to life. Those who truly believe in the sanctity of life do not believe that it only applies to their particular demographic, and only if the baby is healthy. As for the latter assumption, some of the most passionately outspoken pro-life advocates I’ve ever met or heard speak are people who were born with disabilities (the very disabilities or conditions that are often targeted for abortion).

I know many people who have worked tirelessly for the pro-life cause for decades. I have never encountered any who would suggest that a poor woman of another race, pregnant with a disabled child, consider an abortion. Instead, I know people who provide a myriad of services to support women with unplanned pregnancies, and who continue supporting them in many practical ways after the child is born. I know people who have adopted ill, disabled, and abandoned infants. I could go on and on.

The absurdity of this sign is even more apparent because the protestor felt a need to include “gay” and “transgender”, as if future sexual preferences and future gender dysphoria could somehow be diagnosed in babies. One would think the author of this sign viewed supposed pro-lifers as all being white racists who believe that only certain privileged babies have a right to life. If the protestor was pro-life, he or she would know that nothing is further than the truth. But it seems that the protestor believes that either no babies have a right to life — or only babies privileged enough not to be selected for abortion. Otherwise the sign would read, “All babies have a right to life, even if the baby is poor…” etc.

Pro-lifers believe that every baby, including the most inconvenient, unwanted, unloved baby — the very life too many in our society would deem as unworthy and disposable — is a human being created in the image of God, and thus is a life worthy of protection.

The protestor’s own privilege is showing.

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