By now you’ve no doubt heard about that horribly racist anti-abortion billboard that was put up—and almost immediately taken down—back in February. You know the one: It depicted a young Black girl beneath the words “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb,” and it was splashed, in all its 30-foot ugliness, near the mouth of the Holland Tunnel in New York City.
Civil rights groups were naturally outraged, a response the Christian group behind the image, Life Always, said it expected, noting that it was designed to “provoke a visceral reaction.” Life Always eventually caved, taking down the billboard in shame. But the story doesn’t end there.
The little girl in the ad was Anissa Fraser, who was only four when her mother, Tricia Fraser, allowed her to be photographed as a model for stock photographs. Now Tricia is fuming, and she’s filed a lawsuit against the stock photo company.
Getty Images had initial ownership of Anissa’s photo, but it then sold the rights to Heroic Media with the caveat that it not be used “in connection with a subject that would be unflattering or unduly controversial to a reasonable person.” Tricia had been told Anissa’s image was going to go toward “family photos,” but an ad saying Black children are in danger in the womb is clearly not a “family photo.” So now she’s suing.
Tricia is claiming that not only was she forced to explain sex to her daughter before she’d wanted to, but Anissa’s fledgling modeling career has also been damaged by bad press. On top of all that, Anissa was scared and confused about why her picture was such a big deal in the national spotlight.
“While Life Always and Heroic Media certainly have the right to engage in such offensive speech,” notes Tricia in her complaint, “they do not have the right to exploit the likeness of an innocent child to do so.”
At the end of the day, what we’re stuck with is a case of what we’re far too often stuck with in this country: Innocent children who are dragged into the nonsense of adults, and who then pay the price for it.
(Photo: Courtesy of Life Always)
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