Interbeing and Stepping Into True Choice

won’t you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton

what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

The interconnection and interdependence of causes and conditions are wrapped up tidily in interbeing. Interbeing touches on both the skillful and unskillful ways that we affect each other: I’m like this, because you’re like that. You’re like that, because I’m like this.

We need look no further than the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling  by the U.S.  Supreme Court, regarding the right and agency of women and other people who can become pregnant  to choose what happens in, to, and around their bodies. The Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 reflected the public’s support of the inherent right and wisdom of women and other people who can become pregnant to decide what occurs in, to, and around their body. Roe v. Wade, a decision in existence for nearly fifty years over two generations, was overruled by a Court majority who determined that women and other people who can become pregnant no longer may exercise this inherent right or wisdom.

How does interbeing figure into the Dobbs v. Jackson decision?

We are invited to look deeply at the impact of this decision, a decision that affects the right and agency of women and other people who can become pregnant to choose what happens in, to, and around their bodies.  Who is disproportionately impacted by the decision? And why is this so?

A first step is to look at the populations that have abortions by race/ethnicity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2019, the most recent year available, report that Black women have the highest rates of abortion with 23.8 per 1,000 people. Hispanic (CDC uses the term “Hispanic” to refer to Latina/Latinx) women had 11.7 abortions per 1,000 people, while for white women, the ratio was 6.6 per 1,000 people. We could stop here but that would not be the most truthful understanding of these numbers.

We must ask why? This is the second step. Why is it that Black and Brown women have greater rates of abortions in the U.S. than their white counterparts? This is like this because that is like that. In this situation, ‘that’ is the system of white supremacy that has contributed to the causes and conditions for Black and Brown women to require abortions more often than white women. It would be lacking in integrity to ignore the ‘why’. The convenience of using a ‘moral’ meter in explaining away the rights of a woman or person who can become pregnant to control their body, ignores the ‘why’. It attempts a separation of convenience and ignores the interbeing nature of what underlies true choice. It ignores the historic and current disparity in Black and Brown women’s health based on race/ethnicity. It ignores the disparity in Black women’s income and educational attainment based on race/ethnicity. It ignores the disparity in Black women’s occupation based on race/ethnicity. It ignores the increased rates of intimate partner and sexual violence in Black and Brown women. It ignores the legacy of all forms of racial injustice based on race/ethnicity. Race/ethnicity and many social determinants are the causes and conditions that together inter-are or depend on each other in affecting the decision by a BIPOC or white woman and other people who can become pregnant wisdom to choose to choose consensual sex, preventative birth control, or ‘abortion’.

The foundation of racial injustice continues its legacy and policing in the Dobbs v. Jackson decision on the right and agency of women and other people who can become pregnant to control  their bodies; it cannot be separated out. ARISE raises awareness of the intersectionality, the interbeing-nature of race, gender, class, immigrant status, sexual orientation, ability and all the other identities that together are the causes and conditions of the wisdom that underlies choice(s) made by women and other people who can become pregnant about what occurs in, to, and around their body.

The third step is an invitation to our mahasangha. An invitation to investigate and reflect deeply on the ways we participate in shaping a more equitable society; one that leaves no one / no group behind and disproportionately harmed. This is an invitation to our individual and collective awakening.

With gratitude for your deep looking and listening.
ARISE Sangha

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