On April 12th, 2013, we convened 50 members of the New Leadership Networking Initiative (NLNI) to discuss the connections between immigrants’ rights and reproductive justice, and to brainstorm ways that participants could work at these intersections. The day began with a grounding exercise by members of Seattle’s Zenyu, a grassroots, multicultural organization that cultivates the holistic wellbeing and leadership of LGBTQI people of color. Beginning with a recognition of our standing on Wampanoag land, and moving through mindfulness and breath work, we started our day by becoming more present in our bodies as a way to prepare for our discussions moving forward.
Our explorations of the connections between reproductive justice and immigrants’ rights began with an incredible panel with presenters from the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Sauti Yetu, and the New York State Youth Leadership Council, in which we discussed issues faced by Asian, African, and Latin@ immigrants as well as the importance of organizing led by undocumented youth. With Congress about to drop its first draft of its comprehensive immigration reform effort, this conversation also focused on what to expect out of this legislative project and what the most relevant areas were in terms of access to health care, LGBTQ liberation, women, and families.
Armed with this knowledge, participants split up into groups according to their work and interests: Policy & Advocacy, Organizing, Communications & Media, and Arts & Culture Change. Each of these groups then strategized on and developed ways that reproductive justice work that centered immigrant women, queer, and trans folks could be done through each of these important and complimentary strategies for social change.
After a networking lunch, participants continued to strategize about ways to prioritize the voices and needs of marginalized folks within our movements, and then reported back with their findings.
The Policy & Advocacy group stressed the needs for connection, both with other organizations through coalition but also face to face with our community members through direct service and care. They also strategized about tactics for engagement: to not be afraid to “ask for it all” in the left flank, to ethically share our stories, and to bring our heart to the center of our advocacy work.
Communications & Media also brought up the importance of collaborative work. They also strategized around reclaiming the concept and terminology around “American Family Values” to enhance our movement goals, as well as empowering and developing youth leadership in communicating their own stories to a wider audience.
Arts & Cultural Change framed their activism as part of a larger project of cultural organization and self-actualization. They brought up the idea of needing to shift away from the narrative of being beholden to “wins” on paper, and instead to look at the arts as a holistic perspective on our movement work and a form of “deep listening.” They also prioritized taking art out of the museum through street actions, sticker bombs, and intuitive art making.
The Organizing group echoed the need for ethical story sharing as a tool to enact cultural change on the ground, as opposed to statewide and/or legislative initiatives. They also brought up the idea of shifting away from traditional campaigns that require foundation or grant funding to a model that makes use of material and technology at hand; for example, sending notifications of detainments and requests for help via smartphones. They also stressed the need for language access as a priority in our campaigns.
After the groups completed their report backs and evaluations, we took a group picture and then headed over together to speak at, learn from, and enjoy the rest of the 2013 CLPP conference!
Participants and Presenters
Adaku Utah, SouLar Bliss and Project SAFE
Alex DiBranco, PRA
April Nishimura, Zenyu
Bianca Campbell, SPARK
Bree Pearsall, Provide
Charlie Rose, GirlMom.com
Christie Barcelos, UMass Amherst Department of Community Health
Christine Cruz Guiao, Zenyu
Courtney Hooks, Justice Now
Coya White Hat-Artichoker, activist
Dallas Schubert, My Abortion, My Life
Danny Scar, The Prison Doula Project
Déodonné Bhattatrai, LSRJ
Ebony Noelle Golden, Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC
Erica Diane Silber, CLPP
Finn Schubert, Sadie Nash Leadership Project
Gabriel Garcia-Vera, Pridelines Youth Services
Jacqui Quetal, NSFC
Jen Cox, OK4RJ
Karmann Peters, NSFC
Katherine Cross, SRLP
Kimberly Inez McGuire, NLIRH
Laura Nixon, LSRJ
Leticia Contreras, CLPP
Lillian Hewko, Legal Voice
Lindsey O-Pries, NNAF
Liz Chen, Center for American Progress
Martha Pskowski, PopDev
Megan Smith, Ibis Reproductive Health
Melissa Moore, Provide
Melissa Torres-Montoya, LSRJ
Mia Sullivan, CLPP
Mim Schafer, Youth Action Coalition
Misty Rojo, Justice Now
Monica Raye Simpson, SisterSong
Myra Gissel Durán, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
Oriaku Njoku, IRC
Peggy Kaplin, Foundation for a Just Society
Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, Bay Area Doula Project
Sandra Criswell, OK4RJ
Shana Griffin, Women's Health & Justice Initiative
Shivana Jorawar, NAPAWF
Sonia Guinansaca, New York State Youth Leadership Council
Sophia Leenay, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota
Symone New, The Doula Project
Taja Lindley, Colored Girls Hustle
Tiffany Tai, NNAF
Zeinab Eyega, Sauti Yetu