¡RJ AHORA! A Revolution in Words: RCRC

¡RJ AHORA! A Revolution in Words: RCRC

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 Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

On behalf of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), I want to say gracias!

Gracias for your leadership. Gracias for your fierceness. Gracias for all of the contributions you have made to building a Reproductive Justice movement that honors the lives of all women and people of color.

During this 5th annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice — which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the founding of the reproductive justice movement — RCRC is proud to sign the following declaration of solidarity entitled RJ Ahora: A Revolution 20 Years In the Making.

Although we believe that the entire declaration is important, we want to lift up the following words about the founding and ongoing priorities of the Reproductive Justice movement:

“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.”

As the declaration also rightly states, despite the powerful collective organizing that has taken place as a direct result of the reproductive justice movement over the past 20 years, Latinas are confronted with deeply unjust immigration, deportation, anti-abortion and health care policies.  Sadly, right wing religious leaders are often at the forefront of these excruciatingly harmful campaigns that target women, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ and poor people. In fact, religion has been intentionally used as a tool to shame and discriminate against so many of our communities.  

And yet, we also know there are BIG rays of hope leading our Latin@ faith communities. Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño from the United Methodist Church is one of those many rays of hope!  On President’s Day 2014, she was arrested in front of the White House for engaging in civil disobedience for immigration justice. In a piece she published in HuffPO entitled “Principled Leadership on President’s Day” she shares the following story about a mother and daughter facing cruel and inhumane deportation policies This is the same story she shared with President Obama at a follow up meeting with other clergy:

Last March, I had the great privilege of joining 13 other religious leaders in a meeting with our President to discuss the need for immigration reform. I shared a story with him about a little girl whose mother is an immigrant and lives in daily fear of deportation. This mother was speaking in one of our churches about the difficulties of being a mother and an undocumented immigrant. In giving her testimony she was overcome by the despair of her life and began to cry, causing all of us to cry with her. But it was her little girl who stepped up and wrapped herself around her mother's legs, trying to comfort her, convicting those of us who were present to do something about the injustices faced by immigrants like this mother and her child. Out of conviction I say today what I said to President Obama then: Why should children bear the burden of our broken immigration system and the fear of deportation?”

This is a faithful reproductive justice story precisely because it speaks so powerfully to the core tenants of reproductive justice which are:

  • the right to have children and to decide how many and under what conditions you give birth;
  • the right to not have children; and
  • the right to parent one's own children in safe & healthy environments.

In one short but powerful story, Bishop Carcaño is showing us that reproductive justice means that all families have the right to live together without being torn apart by an unjust system that is designed to invoke fear, shame and hardship on immigrant women and families.  As a result, she spoke from a place in conviction when she raised the immoral and deplorable experience immigrant women and children face at the hands of cruel immigration policies. This is reproductive justice in action!  

At RCRC, we know that many Latin@ religious and lay leaders are engaged in a broad range of human rights and social justice work because of — rather than in spite of  — their faith.  Many of our Latin@ and faith-based organizations understand the power faith and spirituality hold in fueling our activism, our love of our families and communities and our commitment to self-determination for all people.  This common understanding can continue to help us to all deepen our work at the intersection of faith and reproductive justice. Our faith and Latin@ communities also know that when we are rooted in theologies of love, respect, community and justice transformation is possible.

We understand that our faith and spiritual traditions can be used to lift up rather than tear down, separate and isolate our communities and families.  Let us continue to organize, agitate and build bridges at the intersection of faith and reproductive justice. In doing so, together we can grow a big and bold vision for a just and radically welcoming world.