Candidate for Lieutenant governor of Virginia, E. W. Jackson, has a ton of bizarre sound bites denouncing yoga and the show Seinfeld and other seemingly innocuous things, for which he adamantly refuses to apologize. Those statements aren’t dangerous or hurtful, although they’re seemingly nonsensical; his remarks about homosexuality and abortion, however, are not so easy to laugh off. And he’s not giving them up.

Photo by Mark Taylor
Photo by Mark Taylor

Jackson links homosexuality to pedophilia, and describes allowing LGBTQ folks to serve in the military as “sexually twisted.” He called gay soldiers degenerate, sexually darkened, sick people, and accused them of being bigoted against African-Americans and Christians, sexualizing children, and altogether destroying the United States by turning their backs on black women and generally poisoning society. In an interview, he also accused supporters of LGBTQ rights as doing work “to kill black folks.”

LaBarbera: If the media cared more, if people actually cared more about these people, they would actually associate the behavior with the problem but it is like the elephant in the room, it is the one thing you can’t talk about, we see young African American men contracting HIV at astonishing rates and yet it’s not talked about at all as a problem of homosexual behavior, that’s the astonishing thing.

Jackson: If you talk about it you’ll be accused of being a racist just for bringing it up, which is so stupid. Liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that’s a fact.

Though completely untrue, Jackson’s scapegoating of gay men for AIDS is unsurprising. To look at the truth – that black gay men are disproportionately likely to contract HIV due to “broader social and economic factors such as limited access to and use of quality health care, lower-income and educational attainment, higher rates of unemployment, and incarceration” – would force him to look at the way his political party promotes limited government at the expense of his community and others.

Jackson’s takedown of abortion requires similar leaps of logic. He claims that a comparison can be made between the KKK and Planned Parenthood because the justification for abortion is the same as for slavery–the victim is less than human and thus lacks basic rights. He describes abortion as a genocide devastating the black community, noting birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger’s affiliation with the eugenics movement, and claims Planned Parenthood was designed to be a death sentence to the black community. He  believes that we should explore the possibility that abortion is a method of controlling and minimizing the African-American community in America.

Well then, Mr. Jackson, let’s explore.

Yes, Sanger was tied to the eugenics movement and said reprehensible things about using family planning as a way to keep “degenerates” from reproducing. However, it’s been a considerable time since Sanger, and I’m not aware of a single person in charge of birth control clinics today who has publicly aligned his or herself with such statements. The idea of black children as an endangered species dates back to the early 1970s when nationalist groups like the Black Panthers claimed abortion would “destroy our people.” Other civil rights activists, such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr, firmly supported family planning practices. Groups like Trust Black Women formed in response to the numerous “Black Children are an Endangered Species”  billboards erected across Georgia in 2010. Their mission was to put decision-making power back into the hands of women of color.

Today, black women have 30% of all abortions and one in three black women’s pregnancies end in abortion. This has much more to do with their lack of access to financial and contraceptive resources than Planned Parenthood’s “racist agenda.” Furthermore, unintended/unwanted pregnancies occur across all race and class lines. Frankly, if Planned Parenthood was really trying to wipe out the African-American population, they would get an F for effort. Only 6% of their clinics are located in zip codes with a predominately black population, and said population is expected to double by 2050. By manipulating the facts, Jackson takes a real concern – disproportionate rates of abortion- and comes to the absolute wrong conclusion, redirecting the conversation and concealing the real issue. Instead of asking why black women have so many abortions, he follows Theodore Roosevelt’s illogical leap and starts shouting about access to abortion leading to race suicide. Roosevelt was wrong, Jackson, and so are you.

Jackson also contradicts himself constantly, claiming Obama has a Muslim perspective that’s going to drive the US into the ground while touting his own theology-based ideals as the key to turning this country around. He uses the refusal of the Red Cross to accept blood donated by any man who has ever had sexual contact with another man as proof that we shouldn’t normalize homosexuality because the government is an “objective” arbitrator of truth—the same government his party believes should have minimal control over its population because it is prone to corruption. He wants the government “off our backs, off our property, off our guns, out of our families, out of our health care, out of our business, out of our lives, and out of our way”….and into women’s lives and bodies. He believes “maximum emphasis needs to be put on the ability of people to choose” as long as the choice is one that keeps them in segregated housing. If all of this isn’t reason enough for him to lose all credibility, Ayn Rand’s writing was the reason he left the Democratic party and became a Republican.

I have a little advice for you, Mr. Jackson: If you care about the black community, look at ways to make sure communities of color are able to make free and unconstrained choices. If you’re concerned about abortion policies, talk to women who are choosing abortion to learn why. 

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