White Folks Facing Race: Reproductive Justice is Part of Liberation
Little did I know when I wrote about grief last time, that it would only be compounded further only a few weeks later. I hope you are taking time to process what you’re feeling and that you are kind and patient with yourself.
I need to take my own advice. Having my kids home for the summer has meant that I find fewer opportunities alone for me to openly process my outrage, my grief, my refusal to accept a world in which my (currently female identifying) children will have fewer rights than I have had in my lifetime. I can tell that my emotions are close to the surface and ready to be freed. After I dropped my kids off at camp for the day and got back in the car this morning, the tears started falling, even before my music (a “Power Mix” I created in November 2016) turned on.
My mantra for this work, “Listen. Amplify. Follow. In Solidarity.” applies to all justice work, including reproductive justice. Please seek out local organizations that are helping people get the access they need to health care services. Large national orgs have huge endowments and are not as dependent upon donations as small, independent nonprofits are. Support those who are already doing this work, however you are able.
Whatever your stance on abortion, it is undeniable now (if it ever was) that women in our country are oppressed, alongside/overlapping with additionally marginalized people who will experience increased oppression more acutely than White women will. A majority of the population in the United States is now overtly oppressed by the racist, sexist, and misogynistic systems in place.
White, straight, cis-gendered men have the most power in our culture and must be part of liberation work, just as White people must be part of anti-racism work. To use a comic book cliche, with great power comes great responsibility. So the question becomes, are you an oppressor or a liberator? Will you ignore or deny oppression or will you work in solidarity with those who resist it? Just as with anti-racism work, if you are silent then you are complicit.
If you’re ready to take action, here are some suggestions:
- See this Teen Vogue article for guidance in supporting community organizing and collaborative work.
- If you’re thinking about how to be an organizer in your community and how to work towards a community where everyone is welcome, consider Garrett Buck’s questions.
- Work on supporting related issues like affordable child care, universal healthcare, paid family and medical leave, contraception access, expansion of SNAP programs, a federally funded school lunch program, a permanent child care tax credit, and maternal mortality rates especially for marginalized populations.
Whatever you feel about abortion, the work needed now is about inclusion.
The work needed now is about how we take care of each other.
The work needed now is about finding common ground to ensure that everyone has what they need.
The work needed now is not about vilifying everyone who disagrees with you. From a newsletter by Loretta J. Ross (7/14/22, emphasis mine): “As Fania E. Davis said in The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice: Black Lives, Healing, and US Social Transformation (Justice and Peacebuilding), ‘A punitive, vengeful response harms us psychologically.’ It also harms us as a society if we continue to inflict harm on each other with our unhealed and unaddressed traumas. We must protect the human rights of the person who was harmed, as well as those of the person who committed the harm. We must recognize that harm to another is also self-harm because of our interrelatedness.”
If we want a better outcome, a better life for everyone in this country, we have to stop attacking each other, find common ground, and work together to make it happen. White supremacy is doing everything it can to divide us. Do not let it.
Please also invest your time and energy in voting rights efforts, bolster up our democracy so that a small minority of people cannot dictate their values and priorities to a majority that does not agree with them. Change can happen on every scale, locally, regionally, and nationally. But it will not happen if we take our form of government for granted or if we spend our time yelling at each other. Take steps to engage in positive actions that reaffirm the way you want our country to be. Envision it and work in that direction. And bring as many people as you can along with you.
Listen. Amplify. Follow. In Solidarity.