Activists from the U.S. and abroad will speak about their work and visions for advancing the full range of reproductive freedoms, including freedom from coercion and violence, the freedom to parent, sexual freedom and rights, and gender justice. Speakers will address abortion access, the war on drugs and the increasing surveillance and over-policing of our communities, youth rights and LGBTQI+ advocacy and organizing, climate change and environmental justice- connecting these issues and movements, and celebrating the historic strength, courage, and resiliency of our communities.
Woo! We made it! Jos and I are sitting here at Saturday’s opening plenary of the CLPP conference. And we are pumped. A bunch of awesome speakers and activists are going to be giving remarks, so I’ll keep updating this post with some of their comments- and some video if you’re lucky.
Update: Check out singer/songwriter Sarah Osgood performing at this morning’s opening plenary!
Katsi Cook opens this plenary with a gorgeous introduction:
“The roots of a future world that promises starvation and chaos, and throwing mother under the train, lie in the processes that control and destroy the locally specific culture ….so the definition of colonialsim needs to be expanded in the consciousness of the peoples of the earth.
A CLPP organizer discusses her work around sex and body positivity:
“The point is not only to see, but to listen, to our bodies, our thoughts, our natural cycles. To not have fear of menstural blood, to have agency over what enters our bodies, and what does not… And of course the point is to celebrate, celebrate what so many religions societies and groups have deemed as dirty, sinful or shameful. Today, I celebrate the cervix, feminist activist work, and reproductive justice as imperative, powerful and mind-numbingly beautiful.
Micaela Linder, another CLPP organizer, discussed her evolution from being someone who was “firmly pro-choice” to someone who identifies with the reproductive justice movement. “Reproductive justice inspires me because it encourages people within the movement to evolve both as individuals and a collective…This is necessary because choice isn’t enough. Many lack the luxury of choice.”
Marlene Gerber Fried, longtime CLPP Director and now interim president of Hampshire College, acknowledges that “it takes a lot of courage to be a reproductive justice activist”, and offers four lessons for activists in the movement:
“First: stay close to the reality which drives your activism.
Real women’s stories act as an antidote to the rhetoric around abortion. So listen to the real women, especially those on the margins.
Second: resist the fragmentation of issues and movements. Audre Lorde told us that there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.
Third lesson: Go deep. understand the fight that we are in, so that we will understand what we are fighting for. She then read a quote from Dr. George Tiller: “this battle is about the self determination of women over the direction and course of their lives. Abortion is about women’s hopes and dreams. Abortion is a matter of survival. It’s not really a choice. It’s not even really a right. I mean it should be, but that’s not how women experience it. Women experience fighting for their lives.
Last lesson: Be bold visionaries. That is hard these days, but the truth is that it’s been hard for many days.”
10:00 AM: Betsy Hartman titles her talk “Radioactive roulette at the capitalist casino, or why we wont play their game anymore.” Um, this might be my favorite speech title ever.
She posits that “fInancial meltdown and nuclear meltdown are closely related.”
“The system is profoundly broken”, Hartman says, “yet the fat cats at the capitalist casino play on into the night, spinning the wheel rolling the dice betting thee fate of the planet as if it were some game. They have no answers, no solutions…so let’s shut down their game. We don’t need to shut down the government, we need to shut down the game at the capitalist casino! And while we’re at it, let’s shut down the nuclear reactors too! After all, nuclear power is a reproductive justice issue….nuclear power is an environmental justice issue, it’s a climate justice issue…If we want clean energy, we need clean elections.
“This is no time to be passive, to wait for others to find solutions. Collectively, we must take the reins and be the problem solvers. We also need practical tools and ideas. The personal is political, but the practical is political too!”
10:05 AM: Jessica Yee, founder and executive director of the Native Youth Network, a peer led organization across North America, is truly rocking the house:
“In all of these discussions, we have not yet named the territory that we sit on” she starts by pointing out.
The land that we are on belonged to native people first.
“If you can’t name that, it’s hard to move forward and know where you’re going to go. you don’t need to be Native American to say and do that. You need the knowledge and ownership to know where you are and how you got there. I’m here today because of my ancestors who owuldn’t be silenced, shut up, or go away…We have always been indigenous feminist repro justice freedom fighters before there were such terms or theories or institutions, no matter if you didn’t know about that, or have a falsley depicted stereotype, we are here. True empowerment doesnt come just by saying people need to be empowerment and it doesn’t come from anyone else’s terms other than our own. We can say things like we’re using a ‘human rights framework’, just as long as those rights havent been decided on by someone else with no room for change or room for our own realities. Instead of a wave, a movement. This is a way of life.”
Cara Page, Hampshire alum and now National Director of the Committee on Women, Population, and the Environment, breaks down “disaster capitalism”. Video is a bit shaky in the first few moments but then smooths out. Check it:
I’m working on getting a transcript of this speech. If anyone has time to transcribe or has the written remarks, please let me know or post in comments. Thanks.
Paris Hatcher is the Interim Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, a statewide community based and centered reproductive justice organization based in Atlanta, GA. She is also a passionate, radical feminist activist dedicated to working for justice and liberation and a life long Southerner. She delivered fantastic remarks centered around a recent slew of anti-abortion billboards targeting the African American community:
“Black women are being shamed and blamed, and we need to talk about it…Billboards have been going up all around this country. Folks think they can say whatever they want to about black women. But what we know is that we speak for ourselves.”
“In the Georgia fight, SPARK in partnership with other organizations took the lead to push back on the shaming and blaming of black women, our families and our children. After the legacies of being asked to take care of other peoples children, now we are being questioned as to whether we can take care of our own. Our power keeps moving. We roll deep. We are connected all around this country, amplifying our voices, working with allies who want to support the agency of black women in this country, not deny it. This work is super important, as are all of our communities. And I’m really proud today to talk about our experience in Atlanta. And to know that there are many people in this room that are working and struggling today and saying not on our watch. Sometimes it looks like a big rally, sometimes it means a community garden, taking care of babies, organizing a full time boycott, thats what we do and we say not on our watch. We love our people and we want to get free.”