Reproductive Rights: Who Speaks for African-American Women?
The topic of reproductive rights represents an extremely complex set of issues for any woman. For the African-American woman especially, reproductive rights involve issues of feminism, sexuality, procreation, and health in general.
Since the dawn of the feminist era, black women have been continually asked whether the movement is relevant for us. These probes are usually placed in the context of: Are white women's issues the same as yours? Whether the feminist movement seeks to do so or not, many African- American women have long felt that it does not adequately represent our interests. It does not address sexism within a racist society or other issues specific to black women's circumstances. African-American women are increasingly using the term "womanism" to describe feminism from an Afro- centric perspective. Womanism is meant to "express a philosophy that celebrates the black roots and ideals of black life while giving a balanced presentation of black womandom" ( Ogunyemi, 1985). The womanist movement emphasizes the unique needs of women of African descent as opposed to the "limitations implicit in the notion of black feminism"