I've spent a lot of time over the last ten or fifteen years alternately supporting Planning Parenthood and bitching them out. I recognize that, on the one hand, PP is operating in crisis mode ALL the time - the instructions for dealing with a bomb threat are usually posted on the wall behind the reception area, and the clinic attacks haven't stopped - they've just stopped being reported.
So I understand the defensiveness that comes out when PP is criticized.
Women of color have historically been, and are currently treated poorly by the pro-choice movement and by the very organizations set up to serve women and protect their reproductive rights. "Poorly" is a euphemism here. A big one. The reality is that women of color are not treated the same way that White women are treated by the healthcare system, and that includes Planned Parenthood. The reality is that women of color have had their health compromised, served as guinea pigs, been denied needed medical care, been sterilized without consent or under coerced consent, and Planned Parenthood and the healthcare system have been complicit in this.
Margaret Sanger is still somehow lauded as a birth control warrior, regardless of her blatant attempts to use it to limit the number of Black babies (that's called eugenics). When an organization holds her up as a role model or as someone who should be remembered as a pioneer (there's another interesting (and racist) term right there), what message does this send? Why would anyone expect that women of color would want to be part of such a movement?
And when the response to this criticism is "that happened a long time ago," what then? The implication is that a movement built on oppressing women of color so that White women can have birth control will be a liberatory movement. How could that be, even if the oppression had ended there? I would argue that, while it may be liberatory for some women, it is not a liberatory movement if it depends on the oppression of other women. And that is exactly how this movement has unfolded.
What happened a long time ago is not divorced from what is happening now. We are still living with that legacy. And further, what happened a long time ago continues to happen now. A quick look at the comments in some of the following links illustrates that fact. And I'll be honest - I wasn't aware of some of this. I knew that Norplant was tried out on nomadic women who would not be able to have it removed - and it has to be removed or else it causes serious, life-threatening problems such as ectopic pregnancies. I read Andrea Smith's work on this issue and I had a good sense of what the years since Margaret Sanger have looked like. But I didn't think about it in terms of what happens in daily interactions between doctors and patients, what assumptions color (I use that intentionally) the advice the doctor gives and what s/he hears.
Further, and you need to especially read the comments in the second to last link to get this, all this bullshit about Black Amazon and others somehow silencing Planned Parenthood supporters by criticizing Planned Parenthood (in Black Amazon's case, with one sentence in a post about something else entirely)? This is classic, right out of the textbook. To paraphrase Patricia J. Williams, whose book is unfortunately in my office and not convenient for a better paraphrasing:
A: Women of color have been hurt by Planned Parenthood.
B: I work for Planned Parenthood, and I can't handle what you've just said. I'm upset. I wish you'd never said that.
A: I'm sorry you're upset, but I was upset first. Please listen to what I am telling you.
B: Your upset is upsetting me. You are silencing me with your anger. It isn't fair for you to silence me. I can't listen to you.
(Edited to add: Since I posted this, the second and fourth links have been broken as the posts have been taken down. I've pasted in those posts in the comments below.)
I continue to wrestle with what the right thing to do is here, given the current climate for reproductive rights. But I won't accept that we can't have these conversations because of this climate. If anything, this is the very time to have them. If we want to ensure reproductive rights for all women, then we need to ensure that we are promoting the health and safety of women of color - globally - and this means listening to the hard, painful truth.
Also, please help the Southall Black Sisters. This was, in fact, the point of Black Amazon's original post (already linked).