Spring 2013 NLNI Meeting

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