Saturday, June 28, 2008

All Day Training

Today is 6-28-08 and I am at reproductive training for My voice, My choice leadership group. The day started off draging but, now we're up and moving. Even though at nine in th morning we were all still wiping the sleep out our eye, we stilll were able to get the juices flowing. We got off to a great start with a trainer from Icah who brung up some important issues of trust between parent and child. First on the wall behind us she post two signs one agree and one disagree. She asked a couple of questions and asked us to stand against the wall with the sign that we agree with and one question she asked that atleast i thought was very interesting was, Should a child at thirteen be able to have privacy?Then she went on to ask if condoms should be passed out at schools. For the first question I agreed and so did several of the other women,but two of the women said no. I think that at thirteen you should be able to know the difference between right and wrong 75% of the time if taught and It depends on the mother daughter relationship, how trusting each person is with each other. The condom question I'm not sure on where I stand on that but the condom conversation is very important conversation I think should be discussed at home.So I hope this sparks it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Got Milk and Priviledge?

This past weekend was the last of our travels for this fiscal year. We (staff, leadership group and myself) sat on a panel at the NWSA conference (National Women's Studies Association) in Ohio and talked about the leadership group, reproductive justice and grassroots organizing from the perspective of women of color.

If you've never been to this conference it is definitely interesting. Purely from a academia/research perspective - students and professors come to read their papers and talk about their latest research. Every once in a while a grassroots organization is thrown in for variety or good measure. This is where it gets interesting.

From my perspective (although our workshop had very good attendance) it doesn't seem as though people really want to hear what we have to say. Audience members want to push their own agendas (would you like to be a part of our project?), ideas or even research us! And if you say something they don't agree with - it's a problem (researchers don't have all the answers but neither do activists). Of course, not all attendees are this way because there is exception to every rule. However, there seems to be a disconnect between research and people doing the real work. A real big disconnection.

For example, one researcher talked about her work around HIV in the African American community. She wanted to know what we were doing around this issue with our leadership group. I answered that we provide a variety of health information to the women we work with and plenty of educational materials to empower them. The young lady wasn't satisfied with this answer. Yet, I'm hearing the information, statistics and numbers she has researched but not hearing concrete solutions to the HIV problem either. We all need concrete solutions to everyday problems that relate to marginalized women.

The women we serve are not interested in the latest academia research. They want support for the choices they make and they don't want to be judged for their decisions. They want healthy families too! Yet, how do they have healthy families when they don't have their basic needs met - or the privilege to get those basic needs met? With all the obstacles that poverty presents how do they make those healthy choices? A woman may want to buy a gallon of milk but does she have the ability to do so?

Yes we need research. That is a must. But we also need real work and change.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Owning women’s bodies, owning women’s wombs

I’ll admit it. I read anti-choice blogs. And listen to anti-choice podcasts. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t adding to their hits, but I figure they probably do the same to our stuff.

Anyway. I was listening to some old podcasts that I’ve been waiting for some time to get to listen to (we’ve been traveling a lot here at CAF). And while completely on another topic, one of the commentators mentioned when she was in college, “there was a rapist near our college.” Suddenly, I had a rising tide of outrage in myself.

This was coming from the woman on the show who had had an abortion and worked as a counselor for women suffering after an abortion (from an anti-choice perspective, unlike agencies such as Backline and Exhale and independent feminist clinic post-abortion counseling groups). Coming from a woman who was supposed to be anti-choice because she’s pro-woman, I expected more. She mentioned the campus cops escorting women to and from classes and parties, and went back to the topic at hand. The naivete of this woman who counsels other women made me pity her clients.

Let’s put rape into some perspective:

-Rape is sex you don’t agree to, including forcing a body part or object into your vagina, rectum (bottom), or mouth {or a certain sex act that you did not agree to, if you consented to sex- ed.}. Date rape {sometimes called/used interchangeably with acquittance rape, sometimes marital rape depending on the situation; often used interchangeably with “sexual violence”- ed.} is when you are raped by someone you know. Both are crimes. Rape is not about sex – it is an act of power by the rapist and it is always wrong. (from

-Incest is the type of sexual contact that occurs between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). (from RAINN)

-One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
-14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband.
-As many as 80% of all assaults involve acquaintances.
(from Rape Victim Advocates)

My activism is framed in a social justice framework, including knowledge from the anti-rape movement. The statement this woman obviously lacked any knowledge of- or perhaps even a dismissal of- the anti-rape movement’s advances. Possibly, there was a serial rapist on or near the campus. Mostly likely, however, there were many males on her campus that felt they had the right to the female’s bodies and to show their control over them (sound familiar?). Stranger Danger may be a good thing to have in the back of your head, but Date Rape, Marital Rape and Incest are unfortunately far, far more common. Stranger Danger serves misogynistic* males in control by keeping women afraid (to be alone, among other things), dependent on familiar males, in a state of constant victimization. And while the other prospects can seem even more terrifying, being in a Stranger Danger mindset stops us from keeping those males (and females) around us from being held accountable, informed, and active in engaging for an anti-sexist culture.

Enforcing a rape culture, even in a simple conversation- an especially in a podcast available for worldwide download-, is not pro-woman. And neither is making women feel bad for the choices they’ve made around pregnancies.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Got a Hankie? I'm a big mush ball! I'm crying y'all! CAF really represented at the NNAF conference in Philly this past weekend. I'm so proud! Really. These young women are off the chain...totally off the hook! I mean they are the bomb! (if you don't know what any of this better ask somebody!) To see these young women growing and doing stuff in this movement can't even be described. The words I have in my heart.....they won't come out. So the tears come.

These women are awesome. They are young sisters. Young mothers. Marginalized. Ignored by society. Yet they still have a voice and have the right to make it heard. We are bringing them to the table to really participate. No this is not window dressing. It is not about that. It is really about being a true advocate for women. It is not about collecting your paycheck every other Friday. It is about rising up and reaching back. Helping those because we really care about our fellow human beings. It is about loving yourself...therefore you can love other women fully enough to want to help them. It is not about jealously or envy or competition or who is better. It is about the women we serve. All the time.

Every woman that comes through CAF should have her voice heard. Should be respected and treated like a human being...not some number. I have made a commitment to this. The board of directors has made a commitment to this. We are moving forth. Young women of color in the reproductive justice movement????!!!!!! Yes We Are....Yes We Will...Yes We Can!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


...Is all I can say. I'm really happy we made it to Philly safely because this movement really needs us. Brittany and I are representing all young black low income(I hate that word) women across the country.(Em 2) It's a lot to take in. Since Thursday, I've learned tons of good info, which will travel back to Chicago with me like a,...Straight to the bank!..... It's motivating to see all of these funds come together to strengthen the cause. I've networked with some amazing powerful women. Just a year ago i received funding, now I'm organizing and raising funds. It's wonderful .....funding at it's finest. So right now my main issue is getting more women of diverse backgrounds to the table, to teach them about reproductive justice through empowerment and direct support, which would essentially increase donations to help more women. So there's a lot to be done, but Chicago has set the framework for the revolution. I'm ready. THANK YOU GAYLON!!!


Right now as I speak (well... type), I am in Philadelphia for a conference with the National Network of Abortion Fund. I'm having so much fun. The workshops are very informative and I'm meeting so many wonderful people. I'm mostly excited about having the opportunity to let the nation know about the My Voice, My Choice leadership group. We are the only young women of color here, so our involvement is desperately needed in the reproductive justice movement. The other organizations are really interested in learning more about our group and how it got started. Some have even wondered if they can come to Chicago and possibly be guests on the show!!! Also, I went to downtown Philly. I had to ride the train because we're staying in a town that is a few miles from Philly. That was fun. We just walked and walked and walked...... The people here are very friendly but they don't seem to think so. Anyway, I'm so blessed and thankful to be here and I can't wait to travel again and represent for the young black women in this movement. Gotta get back now......PEACE!!!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This is a little late...

Several weekends ago, I went to a Choice USA Midwest Reproductive Rights Conference and it was... amazing. I love organizations that get it. While most of the conference was focused on organizing for reproductive justice on college campuses, I was pleasantly surprised by their bringing in of other topics that intersect with reproductive rights*.

The other young women and men there were amazing and a well needed reminder of the privilege and resources inherent in organizing in a major urban city. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the lack of support available to organizers and leaders- then I have to remind myself with how much less much of the rest of the midwest (and world) have to go on.

One of the workshops I think I got the most out of was the "Understanding the Opposition". Not just for the amazing break down of the presenter's well-researched book, but for the beginning of a formulation of a response as to why we at CAF do the leadership group. As a young biracial woman who grew up poor, I know that having the right to an abortion is just one of the many rights needed- and hard to access- for the population we serve. This is the feminist movement's ultimate flaw: it is being organized, by and large, by middle aged, middle to upper class, white and/or assimilated women. I am proud and in awe of the women that have come before me in the feminist movement, and those that are organizing now, but there is a need for leadership change.

The problem is, the opposition, the anti-choice movement, understood this almost from the get-go and exploited this weakness. They have been rallying people that mainstream feminists have been ignoring: young women, women of color, women with disabilities, poor women, single mothers... And when there's no else who seems to try to be helping, the anti-choice's lies and justifications seem comforting, right and sensible. After all, everything is easier in black and white, especially when one side is offering you diapers and the other side is theorizing about rights.

There are some amazing organizations out there trying to correct this, including us. Empowering women in all their needs only furthers strengthening our movement. As important as it is to focus on abortion rights what is really necessary is a more holistic view of changing the world/women- reproductive justice. Adjusting all of a woman's needs, not just her immediate need/want of an abortion.

* *cough*despite the fact that they had coca cola products, an anti-union (allegedly murdering union organizers in columbia) company whose list of other reasons to boycott are as long as my arm*cough* (But I think this may have been there because of the campus we were on, not them)

making moves

today we're going to Philly and I'm very anxious and excited. I will use this opportunity to let the nation know who we are and the importance of what we are trying to do. I cannot wait to meet with other people in this movement. There is no precedent to what we are doing and that makes me even more proud to belong to the My Voice, My choice leadership group. I will definitely let you know how everything went and I'll be sure to post some info on what
I've learned. Till next time.............. PEACE... and VOTE FOR CHANGE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm Excited!!!!

I'm soo very excited!! Tomorrow my girls and I are flying to Philly for the National Network of Abortion Funds Conference . We are representing Chi-City. We will be with other abortion funds from the U.S.. This is a big deal to me, considering that we are young women of color and are voices haven't really been heard in this RJ movement. It's time for change. We're on a mission, a 007 mission to make choice possible.We know this is serious work, and we gotta do it.(If not us, then who?)........I know I'll have much to say when I come back. It's gonna be dope!(by that I mean informative) PEACE

Friday, June 6, 2008

Being a Sexual Being!

One thing I've noticed in many conversations and meetings is the absence of recognizing that women are sexual beings. Yeah, we talk about abortion, birth control, prevention....etc. but the reality is that we are sexual beings. There is nothing to be ashamed about that realization. And sex feels good so we do it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

However, what is important to note is that education is the key in women making healthy decisions. You can't not provide quality sex education but expect young women not to get pregnant or catch STD's/STI's. You can't expect women to make good quality choices about birth control if doctors are only pushing the "shot" or the "pill" in poor neighborhoods. Can we expect young women to know about their bodies if we don't teach them?

Human beings are going to have sex. That is just matter what anyone says. It feels good and we are going to do it. There are those that will make the choice not to have sex before marriage and those that will make the choice to have sex. It takes a variety of people, situations and experiences to make the world go around. We need to make sure we have the information to provide so that women can make healthy sexual decisions if and when they decide they want to "get busy"!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


When people say they are pro-life, what exactly do they mean? Honestly it makes no sense to me,(in a country where you can legally buy cancer in a box for 7 bucks.) I'm familiar with the definition, but the concepts aren't adding up. What about all the women who lost their lives(prior to Roe v. Wade) because of those who posed pro-life attitudes. I think pro-lifers live in a make believe,perfect world. I choose to be honest with myself, long as there is rape, incest, abuse, poverty, etc there is a need for CHOICE. Furthermore, a women's decision to abort is personal. So for anyone to criticise or pass judgment would just be ignorant. I'm PRO-CHOICE and proud of it. I have and always will support women making their own choices about reproduction.