Planned Parenthood’s Local Director Forced To Resign Over Racist Statements

It’s OK to build a business model around killing as many black babies as possible, and situating your office locations according to that business model, but you can’t draw attention to that or they’ll run you off.

Welcome to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast…

melissa flournoy

Flournoy was sent packing after a dustup last week in New Orleans following the showing of a documentary film about black women and abortion, and how somehow the pro-choice-vs-pro-life framework doesn’t work because it doesn’t respect poor people, or something. She apparently stood up during the discussion, and, well, let’s hear a description from someone who was there

After we watched We Always Resist: Trust Black Women, Deon Haywood and Paris Hatcher took the floor for a discussion about their reproductive justice activism. Deon detailed some of her work with Women With A Vision. She spoke about working within the community on a person to person level to actively reorganize the power dynamics in black women’s lives. She talked about experiences with research organizations that ask WWAV to give access to “them.” The “them” these organizations want includes black women, sex workers, trans women, homeless women, and many other marginalized folks. She spoke about how important it is for women of color to be not just partners but leaders in  defining what reproductive rights mean to us. Paris spoke about her reproductive justice work as the cofounder of SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW. She talked at length about the importance of viewing reproductive rights outside of the Pro Choice vs. Pro Life framework.

There was a feeling of reverence for the heaviness of the topics we’d discussed. Out of the three seconds of silence, your hand went up and the whole meeting went off the tracks. You started by introducing yourself as the Louisiana State director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. After that, you proceeded to ask Deon what she could “do about Katrina.” Though you didn’t pause to give context, you were talking about Katrina Jackson, the state representative out of Monroe, Louisiana who penned HB388. The bill effectively shuts down some of the abortion providers here in Louisiana. You complained about the representative’s unwillingness to hear your pleas, and jokingly said that you wanted to “put (Deon) into a ring and let you kick her ass!” Didn’t we JUST get done talking about how hurtful it is for black women to constantly be profiled as dangerous? Violent? Subhuman? How is this helpful? Deon had told us about the police reports she sees where police officers describe black women as primarily “big,” “black,” and “angry.” YOU TURNED AROUND AND DID THE SAME THING. Deon stated that she’s not going to go fight any other black women. She’s not doing this work to go be the black person who can tame other black people for you. None of us are. It was clear that you weren’t getting the answers or feedback that you wanted. I’m sure you were aware of the people expressing their dismay in the background as you charged on to talk at length about how what we REALLY need to just focus on less race stuff and more political stuff. According to you, the solution lies in pressuring elected officials and voting the bad eggs out of office. You asked question after question, made statement after statement, and barely paused for Deon or anyone else to answer. When she was able to sneak a word in edgewise, you cut her off again! This went round and around. You interrupted most of the people who spoke last night, including me. I explained that I rejected the Pro Choice vs. Pro Life framework because it leaves behind many of the communities represented in that room. I stated that while I was glad you came, I didn’t want this entire conversation to become us simply focused on and responding to you. I also said that when you ask questions of people like Deon, like Paris, like the many activists and organizers in that room who have exactly the kind of analysis that your organization sorely lacks, you need to shut up and listen. You didn’t. In fact, you cut me off before I could finish talking.

Yep. Flournoy suggested that the black woman who runs Women With A Vision engage in violence against state rep. Katrina Jackson, who authored the new law making abortion clinics in Louisiana meet regulatory standards similar to other medical clinics in the state.

This is Deon Haywood…

So naturally, telling a room full of people that you’d like to put Katrina Jackson in a ring with her so she could kick Jackson’s ass isn’t going to go over all that well.

And then when the crowd turned on Flournoy, she apparently told them she was actually down with the cause because she’s a “lesbian from Shreveport.” That apparently didn’t help a lot either.

That was Thursday. This went out on Friday

August 14, 2014

Ms. Ford,

Thank you for speaking so honestly in your open letter addressing the events that occurred at the Women With A Vision film screening and discussion that took place yesterday evening.

Melissa Flournoy, the Louisiana State Director, made comments and conducted herself in a manner not at all reflective of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s and Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s values and beliefs. This is absolutely unacceptable and I will take immediate action to address this situation.  On behalf of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, I offer my sincerest apology to you and others who were in attendance.

I truly understand that Planned Parenthood must do better.  Not just in New Orleans, but in every community we serve.  That is our intent and our commitment. Thank you for calling us out. It is essential that we be able to engage in an open, honest dialogue. We are striving to do more, to understand more deeply, and to be an authentic ally to all.  I look forward to speaking with and listening to you and others about how we at Planned Parenthood can become a true partner and work better together.

Respectfully,

Melaney A. Linton

President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

And that was the end of Flournoy.

Dumping her is just good management. After all, when you’re building your offices in black neighborhoods – PPGC’s abortuary under construction in New Orleans is just blocks away from not one but two housing projects – and deriving the lion’s share of your income from abortions, with a disproportionate if not majority share of those being abortions of black babies, you really can’t have people thinking your staff is a bunch of racists trying to depopulate the black community.

And you especially can’t have it thought that when a black state legislator tries to take steps to rein you in that what you’d really like to do is sic a big, mean black woman on her to shut her up.

If you’re going to have a racist business model, it just won’t do to have overt racists advertising that fact.

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