May I let my voice be a clarion call. I will use these words for justice. I will use these words for truth. And humour.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Reproductive Justice and other Frameworks

This method of understanding different frameworks was from La'Tasha Mayes of New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Choice, also here on Facebook.  She presented to our congregation at the most recent Sunday morning forum, and opened us up!

Since the picture I took is a little fuzzy, here are the contents of the chart:


Reproductive Rights
Reproductive Health
Reproductive Justice

Mode of Delivery

Legal Systems
Healthcare Delivery
Abortion; Contraception; Informed Consent; Privacy
Access to full range of reproductive health services; low/no-cost, and culturally-competent care; comprehensive sex education; contraception; pre-natal/pregnancy care; abortion services; cancer prevention; health insurance
RR + RH + Human Rights; systemic oppression; self-help; intersectionality
Key Players
Lawyers, judges, policymakers, elected officials, advocacy groups

Healthcare providers, medical professionals, community and public health educators, researchers

Community organizers, Women of Color, marginalized groups, social justice organizations, Allies

From a quick review of this chart, I think many of the terms ought to be fairly clear with a little reflection or conversation with others.  However, a few that I think could require a little learning curve (for someone like myself) may include:

Human Rights: UN Universal Declaration.  Pittsburgh Human Rights Network.

Movement-Building: The Gamaliel network is one example.  The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is another.  There is more than one way to build power, and a good start is leaders who are themselves organized, and can organize masses of people, masses of money, or both.

Systemic Oppression:  Here's a static definition from
Institutional Oppression is the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group. 
Institutional Oppression occurs when established laws, customs, and practices systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups. If oppressive consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs, or practices, the institution is oppressive whether or not the individuals maintaining those practices have oppressive intentions. 
Institutional Oppression creates a system of invisible barriers limiting people based on their membership in unfavored social identity groups. The barriers are only invisible to those “seemingly” unaffected by it. 
The practice of institutionalized oppression is based on the belief in inherent superiority or inferiority. Institutionalized oppression is a matter of result regardless of intent.  
And here's a dynamic definition of systemic oppression.

Central to several key women of color organizations has been the self-help model. Using a process of dialogue and active listening as a way of demystifying the health problems communities faced, the self-help model assumes that collectively participants can thread through the difficult problems — including racism, poverty, low self-esteem and stress — and use their intelligence to find meaningful solutions.  This approach is central to sparking self- healing as well as social action.

Intersectionality: My understanding of this is that pretty much every one of us fits into some categories of privilege and some categories of oppression.  Sometimes, the intersection can be seen as a multiplier (as in being female and a person of color), and sometimes a mitigator (as in being female and white, or female and able-bodied, etc.  Noting the link just above from the WWHATSUP training on white supremacy, "arguing hierarchies of oppressions is not helpful."

And here again, Tumblr is a great resource for providing a conversation on a crowd-sourced definition.

Allies: My understanding of an ally is somebody who is outside of an oppressed social identity group, and who stands with others who are bearing the brunt of that oppression -- because often people in privileged categories are more likely to hear folks from their same categories, rather than writing somebody "different" off as "just acting on their own self-interest."  This can be in the form of a group of men who speak up for women or third-gender folks.  This can be a white person who marches with people of color.  This can be an able-bodied person, or a cisgender person, or a heterosexual person, or anybody who could be identified as outside of certain oppressed social groups, who is there to work together with people within those groups, and use their voice as an amplifier.  Note with intersectionality, it is possible for ally-ship to be multi-directional or reciprocal, so working together helps us all.

It's important to note that speaking up for somebody is NOT the same as speaking FOR somebody.  It's pretty much always best to speak from one's own experience, and be clear about when you're speaking from your understanding of another's experience.  In other words, it's important to work on self-differentiation.  And note that being an ally is most effective when it's in collaboration and conversation, on common ground, in community and accountability, with people you are allying with.

And finally, an ally is somebody who comprehends deep-down that the privilege they've been (arbitrarily) afforded is less valuable than the right-relationship of common ground, and willing to do the hard work of dismantling the privilege/oppression paradigms, thereby turning that which each of us inherently *deserves* into RIGHTS.

Back to the importance of the presentation itself, and what I see as a clear call to work for the larger vision of holistic justice: I believe that when women and girls of color (all colors actually -- from 2B1505 to F5F1E9 to 4D7BD1) achieve/receive/perceive equity and justice, we will ALL be free in an age where we each can be our authentic selves.  ALL justice is connected, and the human rights (or lack thereof) in this area is a clear indicator of the condition of justice at present.

pax hominibus,
agape to all,

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