|Directed by||Mark Crutcher|
|Produced by||Life Dynamics|
|Release date(s)||June 15, 2009|
|Running time||approx. 137 mins|
Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America is an anti-abortion documentary film made in 2009 by pro-life activist Mark Crutcher. The film, which has been enthusiastically received by anti-abortion activists, argues that the modern-day prevalence of abortion among African Americans is rooted in an attempted black genocide or maafa of black people. It alleges that the eugenics movement that targeted African Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries formed the basis for the creation of the American Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) by Margaret Sanger and the abortion-rights movement of the 20th and 21st centuries. Historian Esther Katz, director of NYU's Margaret Sanger Papers Project, along with other observers, has stated that this is an incorrect depiction of Sanger's views and works.
The title comes from the Swahili term "maafa," which means tragedy or disaster and is used to describe the centuries of global oppression of African people during slavery, apartheid and colonial rule, while the number "21" refers to an alleged maafa in the 21st century (though beginning in the 19th), which the film says is the disproportionately high rate of abortion among African Americans. The film states that abortion has reduced the Black population in the United States by 25 percent. It discusses some of Planned Parenthood's origins (formerly the American Birth Control League), attributing to it a "150-year-old goal of exterminating the black population." It attacks Margaret Sanger, along with other birth control advocates, as a racist eugenicist. The film features Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., who claims that Sanger targeted black people.
Release and screenings
Anti-abortion reviewers have generally embraced the film, while other reviewers have often criticized its attribution of racist views to family planning activists and its claims that attempt to link family planning to genocide.
Pro-life activists in Knoxville, Tennessee have praised the film as a "valuable tool for discourse" against abortion. MovieGuide, an online database of movie reviews that uses a "Biblical perspective" in reviewing films for families, gave Maafa 21 a "quality rating" of "excellent" (4 out of 4 stars), describing it as a "very carefully reasoned, well-produced exposé of the abortion industry, racism and eugenics" and says that it "proves through innumerable sources that the founders of Planned Parenthood and other parts of the abortion movement were interested in killing off the black race in America and elsewhere." Religious online news source Catholic.net also found Maafa 21 convincing, saying it "shows the connection from slavery and eugenics to birth control, abortion and black genocide today."
Esther Katz, editor and director of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project (MSPP) at New York University, said that quotes and actions attributed to Sanger are taken out of context in order to claim that she had a racist agenda. Katz said that Sanger "certainly didn't want to wipe out the black race", and that it is "stupid" to argue otherwise. Katz acknowledges that Sanger "made mistakes" in her campaign for birth control and that debating her role in the eugenics movement would be "reasonable". The online blog for the MSPP which Katz edits describes the film as "propaganda."
Loretta J. Ross, author of "African-American Women and Abortion: A Neglected History" and founder of several human rights and reproductive justice organizations, wrote that Maafa 21 is a "pseudo-documentary" by white anti-abortion activists, and that, rather than being racial suicide, family planning formed part of a "racial uplift strategy" supported by African-American leaders and black women, as they believed that in smaller families, each child could have a better opportunity.
The Liberator Magazine, an independent magazine about African diasporic culture, gave the film a mixed review. The reviewer said that the film "does a good job of placing the Eugenics movement into a larger historical context" but that "one gets the impression that the point [of the film] isn't so much about saving black people, but furthering a political agenda" against abortion, using emotional manipulation to do so. A similar response came from Harold Middlebrook, pastor at Canaan Baptist Church of East Knoxville and "a widely respected civil-rights leader." While rejecting the idea that Maafa 21 will have a lasting impact on African American culture, largely due to his apprehensions of the sincerity of the film's producers, Middlebrook said that he "believes the theory that Planned Parenthood may be attempting to limit black births to increase white dominance."
- Dewan, Shaila (February 26, 2010). "To Court Blacks, Foes of Abortion Make Racial Case". NYTimes.com (Manhattan, NY: The New York Times Company).
- Holloway, Lynette (March 15, 2010). "Some Black Pro-Lifers Say Abortion Is Genocide". TheRoot.com (online magazine: The Washington Post Company).
- Carlson, Frank N. (June 2, 2010). "Anti-abortionists Accuse Knoxville Planned Parenthood of 'Black Genocide'". MetroPulse.
- "Klan Parenthood", an interview of Mark Crutcher (7/22/2009)
- Rev. LeFlore III, Ceasar I. (January 10, 2010). "An Interview with Mark Crutcher". Freedom's Journal Magazine (FreedomsJournal.net) (Matteson, IL: Wallace Multimedia Group LLC).
- Interview of Dr. Alveda King
- MovieGuide. "Let My People Live". MovieGuide.org. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
- Catholic.net. "Maafa21 Black Genocide in 21st Century America". Catholic.net. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
- "Smear-n-Fear". Margaret Sanger Papers Project. April 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- Ross, Loretta J. (Fall 1992). "African-American Women and Abortion: A Neglected History". Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 3 (2): 274–284. ISSN 1049-2089.
- Ross, Loretta J. (Winter 2011). "Fighting the Black Anti-Abortion Campaign: Trusting Black Women". On The Issues.
- Darnovsky, Marcy (April 7, 2011). "Behind the New Arizona Abortion Ban". Biopolitical Times. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
- Black Yoda (June 2010). "Maafa 21: black genocide in America (film review)". The Liberator Magazine. Retrieved November 23, 2011.