Illustration for article titled Betsy DeVos Compares Abortion to Slavery, Ayanna Pressley Invites Her to ‘Say It to My Face’
Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

Secretary of Education and Cruella DeVille stunt double Betsy DeVos has shown us time and time again that she isn’t the brightest crayon in the box. We’ve seen her struggle to answer the most basic questions about education and even declared that she has not “intentionally visited schools that are underperforming,” after making it pretty clear she doesn’t know much about schools at all. Because, why should she? She’s only the person put in charge of the quality of our schools.

Advertisement

But white conservative density is something I can handle. It’s even a thing I usually find comical (I mean, not so much when the demonstrably dumb person is in control of education policy ... but other times). What I cannot stand, though, is white conservatives invoking black oppression in order to bolster their own narratives.

So you can imagine how pissed I was when DeVos found the sheer, unmitigated caucasity to make comparisons between abortion rights and slavery.

Advertisement

According to the Hill, while speaking at an event for Colorado Christian University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, DeVos made comments saying that opposition to abortion reminded her of the ending of slavery during former President Lincoln’s administration.

“[Lincoln] too contended with the pro-choice arguments of his day. They suggested that a state’s choice to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it,” DeVos said.

“Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choicers that is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil. Lincoln was right about the slavery ‘choice’ then, and he would be right about the life ‘choice’ today,” she continued. “Because as it’s been said: Freedom is not about doing what we want. Freedom is about having the right to do what we ought.”

It’s bad enough that she’s comparing the non-lives of the non-sentient unborn to the lives of millions who experienced life but lived it in bondage and under servitude, but for this to come from the same woman who pulled back Obama-era policies that protected black students from disproportionately harsh discipline practices makes her words ring especially hollow, if not egregious.

Advertisement

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, like myself, is having none of DeVos’ white nonsense. On Thursday she tweeted that she would love to have a face-to-face with DeVos to educate her on all the ways she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.

“Dear Betsy,” Pressley tweeted. “As a Black woman & the Chair of the abortion access task force, I invite you to come by the Hill and say this to my face.”

Advertisement

“Would welcome the opportunity to educate you,” Pressley continued.

Advertisement

For anyone who isn’t already aware, in the black community, “Say this to my face” isn’t a request, it’s a battle cry. If you ain’t bout that life, don’t you try it.

Presley has always been an advocate for abortion rights. Last year, she commended Massachusetts activists for fighting to enact the ROE Act, which would “improve youth access to abortion and ensure coverage for abortion regardless of income or immigration status,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Advertisement

“Even in states like the commonwealth of Massachusetts, which I represent, individuals, particularly low-income and young people, LGBTQ and black and brown folks continue to face barriers in accessing comprehensive reproductive health care. And let me be clear–health care is abortion care,” Pressley said from the House floor.

DeVos, on the other hand, has a history of, not only seeking to obstruct abortion rights, but of using black struggle to back personal agenda.

Advertisement

In February last year, she drew the ire of black people all over the country when she referred to HBCUs as “pioneers” of the school choice movement as a way of propping up her well-known support for school choice, voucher programs, and charter schools. 

What I find funny about comments invoking slavery and the like when they come from white conservatives is that any other time they’re telling us to get over it because “the past is the past.” Mind you, these are the same people who swear by the Founding Father’s every bowel movement as if their 18th-century wisdom and the word of God are one and the same. So for them to tell us that we need to stop talking about slavery while pointing out America’s dark history, and then turn around and use slavery when it’s convenient for their own narratives ...

Advertisement

Well, that’s just the kind of thing that makes you wish certain people were aborted.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

Share This Story

Get our newsletter