Archived: Wisconsin Bigot Eruption Continues

By Sheryl Estrada

The same week Wisconsin Republican lawmaker Bob GannoninsultedMilwaukee’s Black community, U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) took tothe House floor to criticize the abortion rates for Black women.

Last week, Duffy, who may be weary of hearing about injustices against Blacks, scolded the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)for not rallying against abortions in the Black community:

“Over the course of five years, I’ve heard many of my liberal friends, a lot of friends from the Congressional Black Caucus talk about how there is targeting and unfair treatment of African Americans in the criminal justice system,” he said. “In financial services I hear them talk about how big financial corporations target African Americans and minorities. As I turn on my TV, I listen to Black Lives Matter talk about how police and law enforcement are targeting African Americans, minority communities. I hear a lot in this institution from minority leaders about how their communities are targeted. But, what I don’t hear them talk about is how their communities are targeted in abortion.”

He then cited statistics that Black women account for 40 percent of abortions in the U.S.

In reality, though, statistics on abortion rates in the U.S. are not exact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2011 report on abortion excludes a number of states that did not report, did not report by race or did not meet the CDC’s reporting standards. The authors note the numerous limitations of the report: “Reporting requirements are established by the individual reporting areas, the collection of data varies and [the] CDC is unable to obtain the total number of abortions performed in the United States.”

Related Story: ‘Black Lives Matter’ Confounds White People

Duffy, a former 1990scast member of MTV’s “The Real World,” stressed that “All Lives Matter,” which is a spin on the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter created by Black women. “All Lives Matter” is now being used in anti-abortion legislation.

The chairman of the Black caucus, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, said this week the CBC will discuss options in the coming weeks on whether to ask for a formal condemnation of Duffy. According to Politico, he called Duffy’s comments “disgusting.”

DiversityInc asked Senator Nikiya Harris Dodd (D-Milwaukee), a Black woman and Milwaukee native, on Thursday about the rhetoric Wisconsin politicians used last week toward the Black community in the state and at large.

“You’re talking about someone who’s a state representative and then you have someone who is in congress two elected officials making comments about communities of color, not really doing what they were called to do as public servants,” Harris Dodd said. “It is our job to create policy period. And what that means is we don’t isolate certain groups in different communities because the people that elected us expect us to go and represent and make policy that’s for the greater good of everyone.”

Related Story: Wisconsin Lawmaker Suggests State Would Thrive If It Weren’t For Blacks

Harris Dodd said Duffy making statements about abortions that isolate Black women in the U.S. is simply divisive and not based on facts.

“It is [Duffy’s] job to create policy that is going to govern and make sure everybody has equal access to healthcare,” she said. “How about that Have access to a good job. How about that We look at our incarceration system and we’re not continuously incarcerating more and more men of color and breaking up the Black family.”

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee report released in 2013 found Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rates for Black men in the U.S., with even more jarring statistics in Milwaukee. The report states that more than half of Black men in their 30s and half of men in their early 40s have been incarcerated.

“So there are other focuses that I think [Gannon and Duffy’s] attention should be on versus pointing the finger,” Harris Dodd said. “Creating policy that will allow them to govern in our legislature to govern everyone and not isolate any community.”

WisconsinRep. Gwen Moore (D), a Black woman,took to the House floor on Fridayto publicly criticizeDuffy.

“After nearly 30 years in public office, not much surprises me anymore,” she said. “So you can imagine my lack of astonishment when my dear friend and colleague from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy, rolled out abortion statistics among African American women to lecture Black legislators like me about defending the welfare of our constituents.

“I don’t expect Rep. Duffy to understand why his comments are offensive. What he and so many of his Republican colleagues fail to acknowledge is the underlying context behind high abortion rates in African American communities. High rates of abortion are related to poverty and lack of access to quality care.”

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