For many Christians around the world, the Christmas season signals a time to remember the Immaculate Conception of Mary of Nazareth and the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time to remember when hope in the form of a baby boy came into the world. You see, when I was a little Pentecostal black girl attending Bethany Baptist Church on Homestead Road, I dreamed of being Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. I dreamed of being chosen by God above all other women to birth his son. For some of you reading this blog, I know this childhood dream of mine seems a little ridiculous if not fundamentalist, but it made sense. You see Mary of Nazareth was special. She was unique. She was not like Jezebel the Harlot or Eve the Disobedient who in Pastor Montgomery’s opinion was the primary reason we have sin in the world and why women should sit quietly in the church.
Oh no, Mary was S-P-E-C-I-A-L—special. And for a little black girl who grew up seeing women in her family beaten by men for their transgressions of simply being a woman (i.e. daughter, mother, and wife)—I wanted to be Mary, God’s chosen and “privileged” vessel. Furthermore, the idea of being able to have a baby without having to have sex with a man was quite appealing to me as well. As a child I thought how amazing it would be to accomplish the ultimate role of a woman which is birthing a baby and still remain pure in the eyes of God, a virgin.
But, of course, I was a deeply wounded girl child who thought these thoughts as a way to survive being a little black girl in my family. I now know as a recovering wounded girl child that conceiving and having a baby as a single black working class woman is not a divine “you are highly favored among all other women” experience. If anything it is the opposite of divine. It is deeply marginalizing. And in society’s eyes it’s downright evil. The worse sin you could ever commit in a white supremacist patriarchal capitalistic society as a black girl or as a black woman is to make hardworking tax payers fund your fatherless child who will probably end up in jail further burdening the good hardworking tax payers. So, I realize that some women by virtue of their class, sexuality, and race could never embody the divinity albeit the “privileges” of Mary of Nazareth. Everybody ain’t the Virgin Mary. Everybody cannot immaculately conceive and then give birth and have their son become the Messiah because some women and their children are not valuable. Some women are figuratively without the divine favor that Mary had making their ability to conceive or not to conceive a political game where current senators and house members can decide to throw them literally under the bus in order to pass a lack luster healthcare bill denying federal funds for abortions. Once again, everybody ain’t the Virgin Mary. As a caveat, I do know the story of Mary and how King Harold (i.e. the State) was hoping to kill her baby (i.e. the Messiah), however, Mary still had God’s divine favor (i.e. white privilege and class privilege) working on her behalf.
And, so the health care questions for women of color are: Who should I choose? Should I support a “lackluster” healthcare bill that will insure additional Americans? Or, should I choose women and their ability to have access to affordable abortions? And of course for women of color this is not an easy choice because on one level we know that more people of color lack access to healthcare. However, we also know the historical and current struggles (i.e. forced sterilizations, unaffordable abortions, state unethical use of Norplant) for reproductive health for women of color meaning that we know any encroachment on the ability of a woman to choose what is right for her body be it by law or by affordability is quite damaging for our struggles to ensure reproductive freedom for women of color (i.e. the ability to have a child and to terminate a pregnancy).
To be honest, I am tired of having to choose between my blackness and my woman-ness. Mary did not have to choose between her husband, Joseph, and God. She did not have to worry about being seen as a promiscuous woman for allowing God to impregnate her. She was able to have a baby and know that her baby was going to have all the privileges of being God’s chosen. She never had to think about having an abortion let alone if it would be affordable because she knew that by birthing her child he would be privileged when all the chips were counted. He would be the Messiah. But, everybody ain’t the Virgin Mary. Some of us need access to abortions for various reasons and some of us know that any restriction on our reproductive health drastically curtails our ability to have ownership over our bodies.
I know some of you reading this blog may find my comparison of the Virgin Mary and women of color’s reproductive health struggles sacrilegious, but my intent is not to sacrilegious. My point is simply to say that as we celebrate the virgin’s birth of Jesus Christ, we need to remember everybody ain’t the Virgin Mary meaning some women often women of color and poor women are not divinely favored by the State meaning they are at the behest of a government that has historically and ever presently have attempted to control their ability to reproduce or not to reproduce. And that we should make every attempt to ensure that the final health care bill includes among many things affordable access to abortions because it is the right thing to do and because everybody ain’t the virgin Mary.