Losing a Future I Haven’t Met Yet: Reproductive Justice & Racist Massacres
It’s the only thing I’ve been able to feel recently.
The unbelievable thing about it all is that for the past week I’ve felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. My therapist calls it a trauma response. When our communities and families have gone through so much, we reach deep into ourselves and try to protect ourselves the best we can. For me, it looks like an inability to deal with my emotions. They are too big, too raw, too tender. It feels like a perpetual lump in my throat. But not being able to fully exhale.
Toddlers. Elders. Community members. Anyone. What I’ve been thinking about lately is how unfair it would be to bring children into this world. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always wanted kids. I’ve had a desperate yearning inside me to procreate, as soon as logistically possible. I’ve been lucky enough not to have lost family or close friends in the last several mass shootings or anti-Black or anti-Latinx massacres. But I’ve also lost something. Not as big. Not as devastating. I’m losing my grip on wanting a family. On being a parent. I’m mourning the loss of kids I have yet to meet. Of having to grapple with the apparent selfishness I judge myself with when I try to rationalize having kids in a country that wants so desperately to silence them.
Reproductive justice, a term coined by and dreamed of by Black feminist activists, gets thrown around in reproductive rights spaces all the time. People wonder why I work on abortion and deeply want children. Those two things are inextricably tied for me, and reproductive justice activists. I understand the privilege of becoming a parent, especially in a country with such a recent history of forced sterilization and ongoing rampant maternal mortality, especially for Black parents. I also understand the brutality of being forced into birthing or parenthood, given the incredible dangers of being pregnant in this country.
It wasn’t really until this week that I understood the danger of having wanted children. Of course, Black parents have been saying this for decades. But I could never feel their pain. Maybe it was willful ignorance. Or trying not to carry something so heavy. The thought of raising a beautiful child, keeping them safe, taking them to school, the place where they are supposed to learn and grow, and have them violently taken from you. It’s unbearable. I don’t know how I would survive.
But that’s the trade-off many of us have to make in this country. We have to be willing to lose the most precious thing in our lives in hopes that they will survive. We have to have hard conversations when it feels premature. Teachers have to plan for the worst, because statistically it’s not that uncommon.
I’m not sure if I’m willing to make that trade-off. And I’m in the incredibly privileged position of being able to decide for myself. Of thinking through what gun laws exist where I live. Of choosing between school districts.
I would do anything for this child I haven’t met. I would do anything to spare them from the violence and discrimination they are sure to face. I haven’t lost anyone, but I am mourning for a future that is slipping away.