Dillard’s, a Houston area department store, will co-sponsor an April 9, 2011 event that raises money for the Austin-based anti-abortion group Heroic Media, which puts up misleading and scary billboards aimed at African American women. Heroic Media billboards in Florida, NY, Illinois, and Texas say, “The most dangerous place for an African American child is in the womb.”
African American and pro-choice activists point out that once born, high rates of heart disease, diabetes, racism, exposure to crime, poverty and prison are all far more troubling dangers to the well-being of African American children and adults. African American women who support reproductive justice have formed the Trust Black Women Coalition to fight back against these distortions of civil rights history and twisted facts surrounding black women’s health.
Historian of black women’s health Dorothy Roberts has this to say: “[The billboard] doesn’t highlight the issues behind why women are having so many abortions, it just blames them for doing it.” After a firestorm of protest at the incendiary and false nature of the billboards, they were taken down.
Which begs the question — why would a business like Dillard’s Department store willingly engage in sponsorship of a highly divisive political issue having to do with abortion? Many corporations deliberately avoid stirring up hot-button issues. One can only guess that Dillard’s believes its customers share its anti-abortion political views.
The Texas Independent, reporting on the Dillard’s fundraiser for Heroic Media, spoke to the store manager for Dillard’s Memorial City branch outside of Houston. Store manager Stephen Brophy had this to say:
Both Heroic Media and the Dillard’s branch insisted that the partnership is not political. Dillard’s Memorial City manager Stephen Brophy said the store accepted the request to sponsor a fashion show because another branch had done one at a previous store and it was successful.
“We try to not get too political,” Brophy said. “We’re about fashion. We try to appeal to the masses.”
Brophy said he didn’t know much about Heroic Media and didn’t seem to be aware that its focus was on abortion issues. For example, he asked The American Independent if Heroic Media supports abortion rights.
Last fall’s sold-out Dillard’s fashion show in Austin was attended by nearly 200 people and raised approximately $45,000 to go toward an Austin-focused campaign, [a spokeswoman for Heroic Media] said.
Set Stephen Brophy and the CEO of Dillard’s straight–tell them in no uncertain terms that Heroic Media is an anti-abortion group that uses volatile, upsetting, provocative misinformation to shock and frighten women who choose abortions, and if Dillard’s gives fundraising help to the group, the result will be boycotts by women and men who support reproductive rights.
Sign the petition and demand that they cancel the event.
It could be possible that the suburban Houston fundraiser raises twice that of the Austin fundraiser due to larger attendance. Tickets are $50 and a private event beforehand is expected to bring in even more. Dillard’s also expects to make money off women attending the event who model and will probably purchase the clothes they wear.
It’s highly doubtful that the store’s manager doesn’t know about Heroic Media’s clearly anti-abortion activism. It’s even worse that Dillard’s would allow their store to be used to raise funds on behalf of a provocative, racially incendiary group that tries to use ugly ideas about genocide to scare African American women away from wanting to control their fertility as any woman would want to.
Sign the petition demanding that Dillard’s Memorial City store stick to its professed goal as a business that serves the entire community, not just the anti-choice community, and cancel the Heroic Media event. In their own words: “We’re about fashion.”
Tell the store manager and William T. Dillard, CEO of Dillard’s, to stick to clothes and stay out of politics unless they want Texas women who are offended by Heroic Media’s message and scare tactics to patronize their competitors.
Photo by Pattymooney (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons