Magnifying Heather Heyer

In a heart-wrenching eulogy in memory of her daughter Heather Heyer, who was mowed down by white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. while counter-protesting a so-called “alt right” rally populated by neo-Nazis, KKK members and other white supremacists and white nationalists, Susan Bro told mourners: “They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.”

Shortly after her murder, Heyer was heinously criticized on a neo-Nazi site as a childless waste of life. Here, fellow childless and childfree women mourn Heather’s loss with the hope of magnifying her message against injustice and celebrating her heroism.

Karen Malone Wright: Founder & Chief Executive, The NotMom summit

I can remember where I was when I heard the news that four black girls in an Alabama church had been blown to Kingdom Come by a white supremacist’s bomb. It happened the day after my eighth birthday. Like them, I was a black girl, and I went to church. After all these years, I thought I knew the twisted rankings of how racists hate. Black women are second to black men, right? Jews, Muslims, gays, and immigrants are somewhere behind. Frankly, the idea that my childlessness makes me doubly offensive is surprising, but it evokes a shoulder shrug. Racists already hated me, so adding one more category isn’t really A Thing. The good news is that post-mortem attacks against Heather Heyer are firing up women without children who never felt the sting of undeserved hate before. And like Heather, they are rising up against it.

Laura Carroll: Author of Families of Two, The Baby Matrix, La Vie Childfree

As someone who has been working toward societal acceptance of the childfree choice for almost 20 years, upon reading about the hate-filled rant about Heather Heyer my first instinct is to lash back. Hate of her lack of value to and burden on society because she had not reproduced reflect dark beliefs of pronatalist dogma. Yet fighting anger with anger only acts as a perpetuating force. Action needs to come from a deeper place. As reformed white nationalist Christian Picciolini says, “people become radicalized, or extremist, because they’re searching for three very fundamental human needs: identity, community and a sense of purpose.” Marginalized, disenfranchised, and with little hope, they attach to “black and white answers.” Literally. White nationalism must be stopped, and we all must act. From skin color to reproductive choices, right action begins with understanding the underlying motives of hate, and the inability to accept difference in others.

Marcia Drut-Davis: Author of Confessions of a Childfree Woman, Retired Teacher, “No Regrets” Advocate, Childfree Reflections 

As a 75-year-old woman who wants the childfree lifestyle to be honored as it should, I’m appalled that Heather Heyer has been maligned as “childless” and therefore not much good to this planet. She proved her worth against this ignorance by taking a stand and being that stand. She fought for the importance of ending hatred and connecting hearts. She wanted to see respect for diversity. Instead, she was murdered in a senseless act of hatred. We, the childfree by choice or fate, stand tall in knowing her presence made an important difference to this planet. She never birthed or raised a child. She was trying to give birth to peace, respect for diversity and an end to hatred.

Maxine Trump: Filmmaker, “To Kid or Not To Kid”

Heather is a childfree hero. We don’t know, and only her family could ever know, whether she chose not to have children, but that shouldn’t be important. Her criticism as childless was tweeted and written about by a blog that many of us had never heard of. Reproductive rights and human rights are being fought alongside each other and we must speak up. Heather Heyer used her free time to fight injustice. In making my film about the decision to live childfree, I have interviewed many childfree women who do just this. These women volunteer their free time and are critically important members of their communities. I celebrate her ‘childless’ life for giving back and fighting for a just cause. We need to shout as loudly as we can against this injustice.

Laura LaVoie: Blogger 

A young woman was killed fighting Nazis on American soil. Next, I learned that militant white supremacists hate a dead woman they never met, days after one of their own was responsible for her murder. On a website that was swiftly shut down, a hateful blogger wrote, “A 32-year-old woman without children is a burden on society and has no value.” That’s right—they called out the fact that she did not have children. And why didn’t she have children? We’ll never know, and it’s none of our business. I would be willing to bet that one reason might be because at the age of 32, a racist white man killed her. I’m angry, and I want you to get angry that a young woman was killed while supporting of her country’s highest ideals. Get angry and do something about it.

Amy Blackstone: Sociologist and Blogger 

As a white woman I know that I am not generally the intended target of white supremacists. I also know that it is my duty as an American to stand beside my sisters and brothers of color to speak out against violence and hate. When hate came to town in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer stood up and spoke out. After her murder, she was denigrated for a status I share, a woman without children. The critique of women without children is nothing new though Heather’s detractor took an especially hateful approach at an especially tragic time. As a result, Heather’s legacy as an American hero and a civil rights martyr was secured. May she rest in power.

Take action: Heather Heyer’s family has urged those who wish to support her message to give to C-ville Victim Relief or to funds for Dre Harris or Natalie Romero, both victims of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.

Maxine Trump has directed documentaries for TV networks from Discovery to Sundance and is author of the forthcoming book “Diving Into Documentaries” (Focal Press, 2018). Her previous feature film Musicwood, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Maxine is in full production on TO KID OR NOT TO KID.

Amy Blackstone is a sociology professor at the University of Maine where she studies childlessness and the childfree choice. Her work can be found in academic outlets, in media such as Ms., Broadly, CNN and TIME, and on the blog she co-writes with her husband Lance, we’re {not} having a baby!.

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Comments

  1. I feel proud to be part of a community showing how Heather’s life was not a waste simply because she was childless. My book, “Confessions of a Childfree Woman” shows what happened to me out of hatred, ignorance and the myths surrounding the childfree/childless woman. After appearing on “60 Minutes” in 1974, sharing my choice to remain childfree by choice, I lost an adored teaching job. I faced death threats and picketing when I spoke. I was called a “Godless bitch”.
    Heather, like many other valuable childfree/childless women all over this planet, wrapped her heart and passion in defending hatred, bigotry and prejudices. Her life was full and meaningful without having or raising a child. She’s has affected all our lives…. for the better.

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