Yes, the afterglow. The time where everything seems brand new and you have that look of contentment and happiness on your face, be it from sex, kissing, or cuddling. The same goes for the final day of the SisterSong “Let’s Talk About Sex: Love, Legislation & Leadership” Conference. The last day of the conference focused on emerging issues within reproductive justice, and here are some highlighted tweets from the plenary speakers:

Suzanne Persard, Jahajee Sisters, speaking on Indo-Caribbean women in the reproductive justice movement:

  • Jahajee Sisters addresses domestic violence, gender-based oppression, and LGBT issues in the Indo-Caribbean community.
  • We were considered authentically Indian if we do not discuss our sexual and reproductive health.
  •  Dismantling patriarchy is at the core of the RJ movement.
  • Entitlement is the reason why rape is labeled as “alleged”.

 Andrea Smith, Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, discussing the prison industrial complex & the human right to sexuality:

  • The pro-choice and pro-life movements have something in common: criminalization and making something against the law.
  • The state is the beneficiary of our oppression.
  • The mainstream movement is racist. We have to hold these mainstream movements accountable.
  • We support the nonprofit industrial complex when we continue to look at others as the permanent enemy.
  • We have to build alliances around our similarities instead of being divided by our differences.
  • Organize instead around a permanent enemy- support people in changing and becoming part of alliances. 
  • What defines the pro-life movement is not a commitment to life, but a commitment to criminalization.
  • There is innovation and radicalism in our youth, and we should get with the program.
  • You can win a revolution on your own… Anything else is simply not worth our time.

Beata Tsosie, TEWA Women United, on fighting the military industrial complex for environmental justice:

  • We deserve job options that are sustainable for our people.
  • US military is largest polluter in the world…not responsible for cleaning up.
  • It’s important that as people of color, we continue to insert our voices in the policies that affect our communities.
  • We still “live off the land”, the impacts of the nuclear industry are big on the community.

 Samantha Williams, Centers for Disease Control, discussing Sexual Health of women exiting jails & prisons:

  • Much of CDC’s work with people in jails/prisons focuses solely on disease prevention. Sexual health is more than disease prevention.
  • Imaging shackling a woman when she’s pregnant. How can she protect herself and her baby?
  • Women and girls are just trying to recover from restriction of their rights. How are we supposed to achieve health?
  • Hold the CDC accountable, for real.

Dr. Willie Parker discussing how to organize doctors to stand up for reproductive justice:

  • There are feminist men and patriarchal women. Patriarchy is the problem, and not the biology you’re clothed in.
  • Sexual health, human beings, and the vaginas they are attached to need to be affirmed.
  • When we assume our positions, physicians are trained to treat individuals, not think about things on a population level.
  • Reproductive justice principles are not foreign to medicine, though the terminology may be. RJ allows us to diagnose the ills of the community.
  • You should never allow yourself to be more of a man than a human being. What you want for yourself should also be what you want for women.

Charity Woods, SisterSong membership coordinator, discussing how to build SisterSong’s membership:

  • We are becoming more intentional, and are becoming a more engaged model focusing on advocacy, support, and mentoring.
  • We need your feedback on what have you learned, what contacts you made, and how to track those outcomes.

So…Now What Do We Do?

Oftentimes, when we leave a space feeling renewed and energized to carry on the work, we can often lose that momentum. So, what can we do take what we’ve learned from the LTAS Conference back to our organizations and communities?  Here are some ideas from audience members:

  • Hold white privilege discussions.
  • Have spaces to discuss how reproductive justice & faith can work together
  • Get more young people and men involved.
  • Have conversations on academia and its place in reproductive justice.
  • Research drug policies & how they affect women.

What can we do to take the spirit of this conference back home with us? For those of you who were not at the conference, what can you do now to get started? It’s always refreshing to be in these spaces and realize that you’re not the only person that thinks this way. Anyone can be a part of the reproductive justice. No academic credentials are necessary. We represent reproductive justice. This is the movement of our generation. Thanks to SisterSong for inspiring me to continue to do this work.  

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