Reproductive Justice Conference Takes Center Stage in Texas

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METERMore than a ’90s hit song, “Let’s Talk About Sex” is a powerful convergence of reproductive justice organizers from across the country. Long before Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization rocked the nation, SisterSong convened the “Let’s Talk About Sex” conference in 2007.

This year’s theme is “Our Plan for a Body Revolution.” A hybrid virtual and in-person affair, the Conference “Let’s talk about sex” is a main component of SisterSong’s work. Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong, called the call a revolutionary act.

Meeting in Texas two months after the Supreme Court dismantled the right to abortion in dobs no coincidence Last year, Texas preemptively passed what was at the time the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country. This year’s conference is hosted by the Dallas-based company The Afiya Centera black-led Texas reproductive justice organization.

Sessions include hands-on workshops that discuss practical solutions to strategic conversations on topics such as organizing around faith. Simpson called this a “historic moment” for the reproductive justice movement. Created by black women, the reproductive justice movement is led by people of color and uniquely qualified to lead at this time.

Abortion and reproductive rights are not a new conversation for black women

While some have tried to frame the abortion conversation as a white women’s issue, there is a deep history of black women involved in reproductive spaces. Simpson emphasizes that black women have long been part of conversations about reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. Black women have been in this fight.

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“We have been controlling our own fertility ever since our own land was stolen from us,” Simpson said. “We’ve been midwives, we’ve been doulas, we’ve been sex educators in our community when no one was talking about it.”

People have begun to understand that abortion access is a health battle. For SisterSong and other reproductive justice organizations, the connection must be understood.

“This reproductive justice framework has given us the ability to engage everyone in this conversation about abortion and sexual health,” Simpson explained. “This is all connected. We cannot get or have black liberation in this country if we are not centering our bodies and what our bodies need to thrive. And that is exactly what reproductive justice work is all about.”

Taking advantage of authentic cultural moments improves organizing opportunities

Simpson shared with NewsOne that it’s also important to incorporate the cultural work into the organization that SisterSong and other groups are doing. “P. Valley stars J. Alphonse Nicholson, Shannon Thornton and Tyler Lepley will join the gathering in a lively conversation on Saturday night.

Simpson shared that in outreach to members of our communities, people may not understand specific terms or concepts. But shows like “P. Valley” brings these topics to audiences regularly and in a language they can understand.

“If I can give you a scene from ‘P. Valley’ that helps them see history,” she said. “Because of these stories, people can see themselves reflected. And I think that’s been a missing piece in our work, particularly around sexual and reproductive justice.”

Understanding the cultural moments that resonate with people is essential to the work Simpson and others are doing. But more than giving celebrities talking points, Simpson said it’s possible to include them as allies to change people’s understanding.

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“It’s like one of my passions, building a powerful bridge between our activist world and social justice, work, arts and culture,” Simpson said. “I want us to be an unstoppable movement where black people are reflected in every way and that we are using the full power of our people to bring about change.”

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