¡RJ AHORA! A Revolution in Words: Kentucky Health Justice Network

¡RJ AHORA! A Revolution in Words: Kentucky Health Justice Network

Viernes, Agosto 8, 2014

This week we join our herman@s from California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) to host the 5th Annual Latina Week of Action (WOA) for Reproductive Justice, a week of events, activism, and conversations dedicated to securing reproductive justice for the nation’s 26 million Latinas, our families, and our communities. This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the reproductive justice framework and movement, and our theme highlights the urgency of our communities’ struggles: ¡RJ AHORA! A Revolution 20 Years in the Making. Dozens of organizations across the country have lent their support to WOA through social media, events, written word. In this special blog series, we'll hear from our allies en la lucha as they offer their diverse perspecitves of reproductive justice and Latina WOA. 
By Bree Pearsall, Ketucky Health Justice Network
This blog was originally posted here.

This week, Kentucky Health Justice Network is proud to be signing on as an organizational ally for the 5th annual Latina Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice.   For the second year, we are joining over 40 organizations across the country to stand with Latinas as they organize for a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.  

To read more about the week of action, check out the website and read the Declaration of Solidarity below:

We, the undersigned, join to declare our solidarity with, and commitment to work alongside, Latinas, their families, and communities, as they struggle for reproductive justice and the recognition of their human rights.

Twenty years ago, a group of visionary Black women created the Reproductive Justice (RJ) framework, founding a transformational and culturally grounded movement for human rights and social change. Latinas across the country joined with Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous herman@s in embracing this new reproductive justice framework. In the process, we reframed our organizing and advocacy to work across issues and identities while building the movement for dignity, justice, and self-determination for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Despite gains made over 20 years of organizing, resistance, and collaboration within the framework of reproductive justice, our communities are threatened. Latinas across the country are facing deportation, restrictions on access to abortion and other critical reproductive health services, violence, discrimination, lack of health care, and the denial of our human rights.

We declare our support for the full recognition of the human and civil rights of Latinas: among these are the human right to health care, including reproductive health care; the ability to decide when and if to have children, build families, and parent children with dignity; and freedom from policies that disregard the humanity and contributions of immigrant people.

Finally, we pledge to work in partnership and community with Latinas and reproductive justice advocates to join our struggles and build more inclusive movements for social change. We will fight together to challenge and dismantle the oppressive systems that deny the self-determination and humanity of Latinas, to transform our culture, and to work for change. The time is now.

Why do we stand in solidarity?

The title of this year’s Week of Action is ¡RJ AHORA! A Revolution 20 Years in the Making.    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the coining of the phrase “Reproductive Justice.”  As described in the Declaration of Solidarity, RJ was born out of the lived experiences and analyses of women of color.  At KHJN, the reproductive justice framework has been foundational in shaping the way we see our community and the way that we do our work.   Six years ago, local activists identified the lack of language access as one of the key barriers for people accessing abortion care in Kentucky. The Kentucky Support Network got to work and created a language accessible hotline and an accompaniment program for in-person interpreters to assist in abortion care. 

Over the past year, the Reproductive Justice framework helped us identify the need to hear more from our trans* brothers and sisters about their experiences accessing healthcare.  In collaboration with researchers from the University of Louisville schools of medicine and psychology, we launched our trans* health survey in July (it will be open until November) and we hope to use the results to identify ways to improve access to healthcare that affirms and supports all gender identities.   

So, reproductive justice recognizes that ALL PEOPLE have the right to live their best lives and to have autonomy over their bodies.  As mentioned in the declaration, Latinas and their communities are facing some serious threats today.  We stand in solidarity with Latinas working for reproductive justice because Latina’s issues are our community’s issues and when Latinas thrive, all people thrive.    

Let’s take a minute to dig in to some of the issues we see facing Latin@s in our communities and how these issues relate to reproductive justice.

Cringe-worthy “English-Only” rhetoric:  We often here people demanding that English be the only language spoken.  Although we have federal legislation affirming the right to have access to information in one’s own language and we have access to wonderful technology and a diverse workforce to facilitate the process, we still see rampant language access barriers.  “English-only” rhetoric goes beyond ones’ personal opinion and can influence policy and ultimately a person’s ability to access basic community services.  Imagine a survivor of domestic violence who can’t access the court system because there is no interpreter for her when she goes to file for a protective order.  Picture a father who can’t communicate with his children’s school although he is concerned about bullying and his son seems to be depressed.   Language access is a key component to having safe communities and providing parents with tools they need to help their children succeed.  Language access also is also a first step in offering accessible healthcare and we all need to hold our healthcare providers accountable.  

Deportation and Separation of Families: In the last few years our federal government has deported record numbers of immigrants.  On a typical day, there are over 30,000 immigrants imprisoned in the world’s largest immigration detention system.  One-quarter of all deportees areseparated from their children and countless others from spouses and other family members. Deportation separates families because often people in the same family have different legal statuses.  This problem is compounded by the fact that our immigration system is complicated and broken and for millions of people there is no path to legal residency or citizenship.  The RJ framework brings us back to the basic human right that women (and men, and everyone) should be able to parent their children with dignity and in safe environments.  Separation of families by deportation is a direct affront to that basic right.  Nicole’s story (from Reform Immigration for America) tells of her experience with family separation by deportation.

Latin@s are organizing and demanding that their rights be recognized.  As ally organizations (and individuals) we have a role to play in standing in solidarity with Latin@s.  

Four  Ways to Act In Solidarity With Latinas Today:

1.  Drop the “i-word.”   Words matter, and no person is “illegal.”  It’s time to move beyond this inaccurate and racially charged language.  Take it a step further, and if you hear somebody else using the “i- word”, take a chance to educate them about the problem with the “i-word.” 

2.  Support an organization that lifts up Latinas.  Latinas are organizing!  We have a chance to support their work and a duty to do so in support of inclusive social change.  Get creative, support can often be financial but can also include gifts of time and talent.  Maybe they need help with childcare during meetings while the parents get together to work for social change or study.  Perhaps a leaky faucet needs some TLC. Kentucky has a thriving Latina activist network.  Below is a brief list: 

3.  Speak up! Write a letter to the Editor (or a blog!) expressing your support for compassionate policies towards child migrants on our nation’s borders.  During a humanitarian crisis, the United States cannot compromise on fundamental principles of compassion, fairness, and due process.  There are even some good organizations that offer templates to get you started.

4.  Educate yourself (and others too!) Information is everywhere, many of us spend lots of time every day on the internet reading about topics of interest to us.  Take the time to follow a few Latina blogs or websites and educate yourself about the issues facing Latinas.  Here’s a few starting points:

Bree lives in Oldham County, KY.  She is trying to connect with her inner blogger.