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ICYMI: Reproductive Justice Groups Forge Alliance with Black Lives Matter

Between the release of Rihanna’s long anticipated album ANTI, Beyoncé’s “Formation”, and the return of Shonda Rhimes’ TGIT, I thought Black History month was already off to a pretty good start, with Black women leading the charge. But news of the February 9 convening of leaders from Trust Black Women, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, and Black Lives Matter proved that this month is completely LIT!
Anyone who knows the history of reproductive justice – a concept that was created by, you guessed it, Black women – is not surprised that the organizations doing reproductive justice work are publicly linking arms with a movement that affirms the lives of Black people. RJ is known for it’s emphasis on intersectionality:

“Reproductive justice is in essence an intersectional theory emerging from the experiences of women of color whose multiple communities experience a complex set of reproductive oppressions. It is based on the understanding that the impacts of race, class, gender and sexual identity oppressions are not additive but integrative, producing this paradigm of intersectionality. For each individual and each community, the effects will be different, but they share some of the basic characteristics of intersectionality – universality, simultaneity and interdependence.”

For them it’s painfully clear that being unfairly targeted for violence, incarceration, and death poses a barrier to reproductive freedom in Black communities.

Setting itself apart from Black liberation movements that often center the voices and experiences of Black men, Black Lives Matter was started and is currently lead by Black, queer women. They have used their rapidly growing platform to address the deaths of Black women, including transwomen. Alicia Garza was sure to address state violence as it related to reproductive justice during the discussion:

“I think from our perspective, reproductive justice is very much situated within the Black Lives Matter movement. And the way we that talk about that is that essentially, it’s not just about the right for women to be able to determine when and how and where they want to start families, but it is also very much about our right to be able to raise families, to be able to raise children to become adults…. And that is being hindered by state violence in many different forms. One form being violence by law enforcement or other state forces, and the other form of crisis through poverty and lack of access to resources and lack of access to health communities that are safe and sustainable. So we certainly understand that BLM and reproductive justice go hand in hand.”

During their meeting of minds, lead by Regina Mahone, the leaders discussed abortion access, the Flint water crisis and environmental justice, and state violence. This partnership solidifies the commitments of both movements to intersectional, collaborative work and positions them to address some of the most pressing issues in Black communities.

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Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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