Day 2 of the SisterSong “Let’s Talk About Sex” Conference was all about legislation. The past year has brought on many egregious (i.e., really lame and dangerous) policies that have placed women in the forefront of the debate over whether we truly have complete autonomy when it comes to our bodies. From anti-abortion billboards strategically placed in Black and Latino neighborhoods to legislators calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, reproductive justice has been all over our televisions, newspapers, and radio stations. I mean, the government almost shut down this year because of reproductive justice. The theme of legislation was so important that there were two plenaries dedicated to the topic. I used my trusty Twitter account (follow me —> here!) to tweet important statements from the awesome people after the break:
We do not define the movement for you. We help to provide the space and support for you to define what it means for you.
~Luz Rodriguez, one of the moderators and the founder of SisterSong
Jasmine Burnett, SisterSong NYC: Trust Black Women Partnership & fighting the billboards:
- The anti-choice movement taking true civil rights and justice messaging hostage.
- We need to re-frame the debate, do opposition research, recruit civil rights organizations, and connect with the medical community.
- Re: the name Trust Black Women Partnership: Trust Black Women is a statement and a call to action.
- Know who is doing the research. Who are the people behind the statistics on Black women and abortion?
Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: Why Title X is important for women of color and Planned Parenthood:
- This has been the worst anti-choice environment in 30-40 years.
- Title X has come to the rescue of individuals in order for them to receive preventative health-care when they lacked insurance.
- Title X isn’t a women of color problem. It affects all people.
- The Affordable Health Care Act will help many people, but undocumented immigrants and people with part-time jobs will still be in need.
Monica Flores, Center for Young Women’s Development , discussing how being a young mother is not a crime:
- Society looks down on young mothers, especially formally incarcerated young mothers.
- We need to teach young mothers about policy and how it affects them.
Juhu Thukal, Opportunity Agenda , discussing communication research on reproductive justice:
- Creating narratives helps to share your story with the world in a way that helps people to connect.
- We have conducted focus groups of activists who told us what was important to them, what works and what doesn’t.
- Community, opportunity, and dignity are key values for activists.
- Progressive women may not know what reproductive justice actually means, but they see the intersections and know why it matters.
- Human rights is the basis for the reproductive justice framework.
- Start with messages about hope and help people realize what they can do to bring about change.
Dionne Scott, Center for Reproductive Rights , on winning communication strategies for reproductive justice:
- Set the stage for your campaign. Frame the conversation in your way to strengthen your point of view before meeting with the media.
- Exploit your media coverage. Milk it (social media, TV, etc) for all its worth.
- Exhale and take time to reflect on what’s working/not working. Pat yourself and your team on the back.
Mary Bowers, Office of Women’s Health , discussing women’s health in 2011:
- Women should find out how to mobilize around health matters, such as the Affordable Care Act.
- Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition & women should not pay more than men for preventative care.
Rene Redwood, NARAL : How grassroots activists can make a difference:
- The time is now to act to lift our voice to make sure that birth control is accessible for all women.
- We need to move from being always on the defensive to being more proactive.
- Vote, protest, and use social media as ways for women to have what is rightfully ours.
- More women between the ages of 18-45 are living in poverty compared to women over 50.
- We need to demand that when the government collects data, it collects on all groups. Indigenous groups are rarely counted.
- All women should have the right to affordable and free abortions.
Jessica Yee, Native Youth Sexual Health Network : Indigenous youth fighting for reproductive justice
- Almost all laws pertaining to people’s bodies are based on colonization.
- Slavery was based on colonization.
- Colonization has removed the legislative rights of women.
- Native women are more likely to be abused by non-Native men.
- Indigenous people are underrepresented among groups of color.
- The past and current history of colonization must be included in all women’s rights legislation.
- When we’re not part of the conversation to begin with, we’re not really interested in being tolerated after the fact.
- Women of color do participate in each other’s oppression, but we can also participate in each other’s liberation.
Deon Haywood, Women with a Vision : prosecuting sex workers in New Orleans & policy victories
- We have to believe in our power to make change.
- Sex Workers in NOLA are being charged with Crimes Against Nature and have to register as sex offenders.
Tiloma Jayasinghe of Sahki for South Asian Women speaking on violence against women and reproductive justice
- Are we a movement, or are we workers providing services?
- The battered women’s movement has done a lot to provide laws to protect victims.
- How do we end violence? We end it by starting to value women and girls.
- Legislation can have power when it comes from the community.
- The domestic violence movement can learn from the reproductive justice movement on how to actually become a movement.
- The anti-abortion billboards have targeted Blacks and Latinas. They will target Asians and Muslim women next.
Zeinab Eyega, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, discussing the Dominique Strauss-Kahn Rape in NYC
- There was a huge backlash against the hotel worker involved in the DSK rape case.
- The DSK rape case highlighted immigrant vulnerability and the silence of women.
Lorena Garcia, of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) discussing about organizing for reproductive justice in state campaigns
- Politics is personal, and if it’s not personal for you, you better make it personal.
- We are unbelievably complacent in playing defense, and I am tired of playing defense.
- Queer women of color have so much power.
- Legislation is only effective if it comes from the community.
- Some of us want to reject policy because it is n oppressive process, but we need to work within it to change i.
- My mom says I have 3 mountains to climb: being a woman, being Latina, and being queer. My sister told her, “Don’t worry,’ she’s conquered those”
- We have to begin celebrating our policy wins.
- State campaigns are what create the change and set the pace for federal change.
Leslie Grant, Sistas on the Rise, discussing young people to sex, sexuality & parenting
- I am not fancy, I don’t have private insurance. I am a poor black woman in New York, I use state assisted Medicaid.
- Policies aren’t designed to help us. We need to use our talents and skills to help young mothers.
- Reproductive justice activists not exempt from getting the policy pulled from under us! We need to care about our sisters, educate and selfcare.
- Our work is reproductive justice because we’re talking about the livelihood of women, your right to live and sustain your families.
Nia Robinson, Climate Goddess, speaking on environmental justice meets reproductive justice
- I look at the ways in which people of color are affected my climate change. The reproductive justice movement fell into my lap.
- Reproductive justice has made my work in environmental justice and climate justice more whole.
- There is an absence of climate change policy.
- The forces that give money to big oil strips are the ones that strip funding from health services for women of color.
- Some scientists, ecologists and even some feminists claim that population control will help the planet. Population control is a false solution. The true threat is greed and consumption.
- We demand true and just climate policies.
Karen Simons, Bureau of HIV in the Florida Deptartment of Health (also of the Dumna/Kechayi Yocuts Tribe discussing Indigenous HIV+ women & unmet health needs
- Florida has the 3rd largest rates of HIV infections in the United States.
- In Florida Indians die faster than any other group after an HIV diagnosis. We are not statistically insignificant.
- Never, never deny who you are …even though they (my mother, grandmother & great grandmother) had to to survive.
- American Indian women are dying faster from cervical cancer than any other group of women.
- Teaching a woman to put on a condom is empowering.
- American Indians are the only group of people who have to carry around an enrollment card to prove who we are.
Professor Dorothy Roberts, Northwestern Law School, on genetic testing and women of color
- While some legislators are preventing women of color from having kids, they want white women to give birth to more kids.
- DNA is being collected on immigration violations to build up databases to be filled with the DNA of black & brown people.
- Most states won’t pay for women to give birth who are using reproductive technologies.
- Resist the idea of biological citizenship that says that we’re divided based on our race/genes. Biocitizenship is facilitated by compulsory use of genetic technologies.
- States are not going to help poor women use technology to have children. Instead, states are using technology to help women NOT have children.
- We [as women of color] will be the ones who are going to be more pressured into using these technologies because we are perceived less responsible.
- Eugenics tries to erase social inequality by calling it a biological problem.
Check back in tomorrow for Day 3 of the Let’s Talk About Sex Conference: LEADERSHIP…