Unfinished Business (Post 3)

I have unfinished business... and our baby came!

Moses was born exactly two weeks ago, and everything they say about sleep is true.  Nada.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of good reading to do in between burps, poops, feedings, crying, a few minutes of sleep, diaper checks, and a beer here and there.  But it's good work.  Little Mo is amazing, and I am happy.


Unfinished Business: Black Women, the Black Church, and the Struggle to Thrive in America
 - Keri Day

In Chapter 4, entitled "Guilty Until Proven Innocent," Day deconstructs the conservative Evangelical political endeavor to marry public charity to conservative social values based in personal responsibility reflecting middle class white privilege.
Under the guidance of the George W. Bush administration, charitable choice grew out of conservative Protestant values.  Faith-based initiatives reflect a religious tradition "that focuses on the individual and a nineteenth-century philanthropic tradition in which the wealthy not only distributed handouts, they also imposed demands and discipline on the poor. (71)
Day points out that popular religious advocates for this type of charity (e.g. Beliles and McDowell, America's Providential History) believe the fundamental responsibility of Christians is to increase society's wealth, and according to a Genesis 1 theology of dominion, the earth's abundance and resources are unlimited for those who have the work ethic and the faith to be blessed by God.

Day goes on to describe ways in which contemporary public welfare policy has become a new form of "Jane Crow," singling out and further marginalizing and limiting the lives and endeavors of black women.  This is done in three ways.  First, through the imprisonment of blacks.  While it's widely known that young black men are the most incarcerated group in America, "poor women of color are the fastest-growing group being disenfranchised by public policies that support this prison industrial complex.  While almost one million women are under the control of the criminal justice system, over half of the female prison population is black." (79)

Second, black women are limited and marginalized through their lack of participation in the labor force.  Because of the harshness of narcotics laws, female drug offenders can't secure employment, which perpetuates reliance on the welfare system, and increases the likelihood of entering an illegal or underground economy.  Further, welfare employment programs relegate recipients to the lowest paying jobs.

Finally, the reproductive rights of poor black women are controlled in a number of ways.  Public policy through welfare programs discourage  black women from having children.  It has incentivized the use of birth control by black women, and Day describes how Norplant, a synthetic hormone that suppresses ovulation, has been widely distributed in inner cities populated primarily by poor black women, all over the country.  Legislation has even been introduced in several states that would make the use of Norplant a requirement for welfare eligibility.

The following chapter, "The Unfinished Business of the Poor People's Campaign," explores the compounded misery of black women by their further marginalization and mistreatment within the church.  Despite monumental efforts toward civil rights, black women have remained outside the often-patriarchal leadership.  Day writes: "If the Black Church is to be a community of transcendence for poor black women, it must honestly address oppressive black masculinities and their implications for poor black women." (105)  Though imperfect, Day believes the black church is still the best hope for a prophetic voice for black women, and a vehicle to provide hope and leadership for the poor.

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