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2 - spring 2011
OK4RJ! CATALYZING ACTIVISM ALONG THE I-35 CORRIDOR
produced by the civil liberties and public policy program at hampshire college
By Akira Céspedes Pérez, 2009 CLPP Conference Coordinator
had been in Oklahoma for the whole of one week when I mentioned for the first time I work with youth and women regarding their reproductive health. The people sitting at the square table, mainly in their 20s, 30s and 40s, quieted down their conversations, processing, perhaps, my comment. “You mean to say you help people have sex?” asked the woman in front of me, her stern yet wise blue eyes fixated on mine. It was then when I started to fear that my move to the state where the wind comes sweeping down the plain might not have been the best decision I have made. Fortunately for me, I came to find out not everybody harbored the same feelings my new acquaintances did. On January 21st, I had the privilege of joining Dr. Carol Mason and her students for a regional workshop discussing interdisciplinary perspectives on reproductive and sexual health at the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Stillwater campus. Quite unlike the folks at the square table, panel after invigorating panel provided an open arena for participants to be exposed to reproductive justice matters in a safe space. The speakers were incredible, the students were so motivated (and inspiring), and the event was unforgettable. After talking to several of the students, I am certain that the OSU event was just a small spark for what will surely become an engaging, hopefully open conversation about reproductive and sexual rights in Oklahoma.
It was an honor to represent CLPP (not going to lie, I kinda felt like a rock star — a bunch of people recognized or remembered me!). It was an Students and activists who traveled to CLPP from even higher honor to have such motivated, persevering and progressive Oklahoma for the 2010 conference. students want to model their activism after the sort of movement-building they encountered at the CLPP conferences. The students all mentioned CLPP as the catalyst of their activist curiosity, or as an “initiation” into the feminist and social justice world.
inside 3 — Sex Worker Rights in East Africa 5 — International Organizing for LGBTQI Youth Access to Health Care 6 — Notes from a CLPP Alum
Amongst our guest speakers, we had reproductive justice powerhouses such as Lynn Paltrow, founder and director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), and Andrea Smith, co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. Furthermore, everyone, from local and national experts in the areas of public health, anthropology, sociology, and medicine, to students, community members, reverends, doctors and lawyers were present. In Dr. Mason’s words, through this workshop we were creating a “two-way learning venue,” because “national organizations have as much to learn from our students as our students have to learn from national leaders who have been thinking about these issues all of their professional lives.” The students and participants—who were mostly from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Missouri—indeed did a lot of learning. The day’s discussions ranged from the myth of the religion-sexuality paradox, to the criminalization of reproductive and sexual health, to even conversations regarding birthing rights and new eugenics. Even though these panels were engagingly revealing, I found the most enlightening of the panels were those led by the OSU students themselves. Andrea Smith had pointed out that to see change we “need to support further dialogue to see where the truths and the myths are.”
—continued on page 7
BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM
WHAT IS THE CIVIL LIBERTIES AND PUBLIC POLICY PROGRAM (CLPP)?
CLPP is a national reproductive rights and justice organization dedicated to educating, mentoring, and inspiring new generations of advocates, leaders, and supporters. Combining activism, organizing, leadership training, and reproductive rights movement building, CLPP promotes an inclusive agenda that advances reproductive rights and health, and social and economic justice.
Hampshire College 893 West Street Amherst, MA 01002-5001 phone: 413.559.5416 email@example.com http://clpp.hampshire.edu Amy Crysel Director of Operations and Finance Cora Fernandez Anderson Adjunct Faculty, Spring 2011 Corinna Yazbek Program Coordinator Lani Blechman Program/Communications Coordinator Marlene Gerber Fried Faculty Director Mia Kim Sullivan CLPP Director Teresa Huang Operations Coordinator Tina Barsby Development Officer Student Assistants: Spring 2011 Anna Saeger Courtney Hooks Emily Ryan Leticia Contreras Lindy Thomas Morgan Drewniany Peter Guillen Sara Berk Will Delphia
CLPP Student Activist Group The CLPP student group consists of young activists from the 5 Colleges and broader community who want to develop their skills to organize for reproductive and social justice. The CLPP student group runs “Activist 101” trainings and is the driving force behind the annual activist conference. Annual Reproductive Justice Conference CLPP’s annual conference for student and community activists, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, connects people to organizations and campaigns locally, nationally, and internationally, and provides them with information, analysis, and “how-to” organizing to bring back to their own campuses and communities. Join us next year, April 13-15, 2012! RRASC Summer Internship Program The Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps is a national program that supports the leadership development of local students interested in connecting their academic studies to reproductive rights and social justice activism. New Leadership Networking Initiative (NLNI) NLNI is a training and leadership-building network for new and emerging activists. NLNI members work at a wide range of reproductive rights and social justice organizations and, through participation in the network, create new relationships and collaborations that are energizing and expanding the movement.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 413.559.5416 for more info!
FROM 1981 TO TOMORROW:
It’s our 30th anniversary—and you are part of our story. Since 1981, we have been building a movement for reproductive freedom through our annual conference, RRASC summer internships, New Leadership Networking Initiative (NLNI) meetings and leadership institutes, National Young Women’s Day of Action, PopDev Population in Perspective curriculum, PopDev DifferenTakes issue papers, convenings, collaborations, college classes and Div IIIs, and so much more.
Help us launch our fourth decade by contributing to our 30th Anniversary Blog, an CLPP is supported by Hampshire College, online memoir that celebrates our collective leadership and strength. Tell us a story. individual donors, and the following Share a memory. Write your vision. Upload a picture. Share how participating with foundations: CLPP and PopDev over the years has helped build your leadership for reproductive justice and social change. 30th Anniversary Fund
Anderson-Rogers Foundation Anonymous Robert Sterling Clark Foundation The Educational Foundation of America The Ford Foundation Gallagher Family Fund The General Service Foundation The George Gund Foundation The Moriah Fund Ms. Foundation for Women The Overbrook Foundation The David and Lucile Packard Foundation The Mary Wohlford Foundation
How you can get involved: • • • Post to the blog! Upload pictures! (You will need to login or create an account.) Email us your stories: email@example.com. Tell us about your memories over the phone at (413) 559-6168.
Make sure to check the blog regularly, like us on Facebook, and follow @CLPPtweets on Twitter to hear stories from others who have also connected in activism through and with CLPP and PopDev.
2 — The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program
WHEN I DARE TO BE POWERFUL: ZAWADI NYONG’O
RETURNING HOME TO HELP BUILD A MOVEMENT
By Corinna Yazbek, CLPP Program Coordinator
hat is often lost in the current debates about the sex trade - between sex worker rights advocates and sex work abolitionists - is the voices, experiences and desires of current and former sex workers. Working with Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program (BHESP) and the Kenya Sex Worker Alliance (KESWA), CLPP alum Zawadi Nyong’o (Hampshire 00F) helped organize Kenya’s first International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, where 1,000 sex workers marched on the streets of Nairobi for the first time. Zawadi recently published When I Dare To Be Powerful...On the Road to a Sexual Rights Movement in East Africa, a breakthrough contribution to feminist discourse that “allows sex workers to speak for themselves; claim their spaces and share their stories.”
the hope of changing societies’ and governments’ perspectives towards sex work, sexuality and sexual rights. When I Dare To Be Powerful features the voices of some of these activists and leaders, making the connections between sex work, forced early marriage, land rights, poverty, education, property and inheritance rights, motherhood, and HIV. As Zawadi wrote in the book, “We need to understand the politics behind sexuality, sexual rights and sex work because the liberation of all women, the equitable distribution of power and resources, and the ability to control our own bodies are indeed critical to our feminist agenda.” Following are excerpts from some of their stories:
“The first time I strongly
identified as a feminist was at the first CLPP conference I attended...
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was always a good student and remained focused on my studies. I was also a leader from a very young age. In primary school, I was a girl guide, at O-levels, I was a prefect, and in secondary school, I was the head-girl. Despite my commitment, by the time I got to Senior Four, there wasn’t enough money to send me to school. I was determined to complete my education, though, so I did whatever I could. That is when a friend of mine introduced me to sex work, which quickly became my source of livelihood. I was really scared at first, but with time I got used to it because I was able to earn the money I needed to pay my school fees, hostel fees, and even pay fees for my younger brothers and sisters. I also made sure I supported my dear mother so that she would not have to depend on my father. It was not easy for me when I started, but despite all the hardships I was going through, I continued to do it because I was committed to making life better for my family. This is what kept me strong whenever I was arrested, tortured by cruel clients, or suffering the bitter cold of the streets at night. I am able to stand tall and proud as a professional sex worker, an activist, and a human rights defender because I believe in myself and I don’t let anyone put me down or let anyone take away my joy. I think being small in size made me this way. People look at me and expect me to be humble – they don’t expect me to be strong. When I speak in public, some people even say that I am not Ugandan, or that I am paid to say the things I do. I speak out without fear and ask others to respect sex workers just like they do other professionals. I believe in myself and I am proud of what I have managed to achieve in my life as a sex worker. I always say that “if you feel uncomfortable being with me or near me then that is your problem.”
—continued on page 4
“The first time I strongly identified as a feminist was at the first CLPP conference I attended at Hampshire College,” Zawadi explains. “Since then, most of the work I have done as an independent feminist social justice consultant has been around sexual health and rights issues. I am really interested in working on the sex worker rights agenda in Africa and across the globe, and have been very active in contributing to the building of a sex worker rights movement in East Africa.” As a 2001 RRASC intern with CIDHAL (Comunicacion e Intercambio para el Desarrollo Humano en America Latina), Zawadi helped organize environmental education workshops for sweatshop factory workers and supported donor communications. After graduating from Hampshire, she worked with Urgent Action Fund (UAF) - Africa. In a region where homosexuality is criminalized, UAF-Africa was one of the only organizations willing to take the risk to engage in advocacy for queer rights. In 2005, Zawadi organized the first regional conference for LGBTQI activists from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with UAF, and in 2008, she helped establish a regional fund, UHAI: The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative. In 2009, Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) held the first-ever Sex Worker African Women’s Leadership Institute, where sex workers from Kenya and Uganda spoke out and shared their stories in
The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program — 3
continued from previous page
I am a sex worker, an activist, a human rights defender, a sister, a mother, a friend. My dream is to see sex work legalized. I also want to see an end to the violence against sex workers. Sex work should be considered work, and sex workers should be respected and loved like everyone else. There were girls in the bar (where I worked) who I used to admire because they had money. I would see the girls coming to the bar counting their money and talking about how much money they had made. I wondered how they made so much money and in talking to them I realized that I needed to wise up and stop letting the men use me, sleep with me and not pay at all, promise to pay and never pay, or pay me very, very little money. I thought it better to be like these girls who had sex for money instead of having relationships which had left me with nothing. I started listening to their advice and got some clients. I started making money and before long I bought a plot of land and built my own house. Everything changed. When I joined sex work, I completely changed. Sex work is work like any other profession because you work and earn money. My retirement plan was to build a house to reduce financial pressure, so that is what I did. I even started a porkroasting business to stop going to the street, but because of a lack of business skills, it collapsed and I lost all the money I had invested in it. Now I am saving up again to start a new business. I want to open up a boutique selling nice clothes. I will call it Daisy’s boutique.
important to others. We are able to represent a very large constituency of young women in Kenya who would otherwise not be represented.
My name is Daughtie Akoth and I live in Mtwapa, Mombasa. I am 25 years old and I have a lovely 5-year-old son whom I absolutely adore. I have several nicknames that I have been given by other people – “Amarulla Girl” because of my skin color, and “Naughty Daughtie” because I am daring, wild, and speak my mind. I love watching movies, especially Italian movies because I love Italian men. I like intellectual movies too and I love cartoons because they make me laugh. I am a fun-loving person and I am a very good mother. I dedicate my time to children at an orphanage where I volunteer, and I dream of one day having an orphanage for AIDS orphans. So when people ask me who I am, I tell them that I am many things – I’m a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a woman, an activist, and so much more. Yes, I am a sex worker, but that is not who I am, it is just what I do. When so-called feminists say that sex workers are victims, that we are being exploited by men, and that we are not in control of our lives, I tell them some of the times I have felt most powerful in my life have been when I was doing sex work. For sex workers to be part of the women’s movement, though, we need to get rid of the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There are women’s organizations that are against abortion, against sex work, and other things or groups so they tend to exclude anyone that they don’t agree with. If we are really committed to movement building, then we should all be under the umbrella of the women’s movement. This is why I keep saying, “I am not just a sex worker. I am someone’s sister, wife, mother, and friend. I am everything that other women can be.”
The full text of the book can be found here:
Some of the most generous people I know, and people who have a positive outlook in life are sex workers. For you to be able to trust a total stranger, you have to have a special heart, have a lot of faith, and look at people in a really different way. You need to have a positive attitude – this is what gets us through. Another positive aspect of my life and my work is the rewarding feeling I experience when we impact a sex worker’s life. As sex workers, many of us have a really strong sense of sisterhood. We show our support for each other in a variety of ways, such as: posting bail for a colleague so that they are released from police custody; or completely turning around someone’s life if this is what they want. It is also rewarding when the organization gets recognition for the work we do and when mainstream organizations include us in discussions and come to us for input. Many civil society organizations, donors, and government institutions such as NACC, FIDA-Kenya, KANCO, SWOP, PEPFAR, and even the media have approached us in the last few years. This is how we know that what we have to say is considered 4 — The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program
http://www.oozebap.org/dones/biblio/Sex_Worker.pdf At CLPP, Corinna supports national movement building work through our summer internship program and our network for young and emerging leaders. Before joining CLPP, she worked at Arise for Social Justice, a poor people’s rights organization, on various campaigns including the decriminalization of prostitution in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.
UNDERSTANDING OBSTACLES AND INCREASING ACCESS
LGBTQI YOUNG PEOPLE ON THE DOORSTEP OF HEALTH CARE:
By Lani Blechman, CLPP Program/Communications Coordinator
n the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I sat on three airplanes and traveled over 5,500 miles. Then it was Sunday and I was in Europe for the first time ever. I spent the next eight days in Strasbourg, France with 35 of my peers – queer youth activists under 30 who represented the majority of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states and a few non-European countries. We were invited to discuss how to challenge heteronormativity in health care and build a framework for creating health care access for LGBTQI youth, in a meeting sponsored by the Council of Europe and hosted by IGLYO (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth and Student Organization). Over the next week, we engaged in large group discussions, small group discussions, forum theater, simulations, collagemaking, presentations, fishbowls, shared meals, home groups, energizing activities, and lectures by experts (who were promptly dismantled and challenged by a room full of critical youth) to build a shared understanding of exactly what values and experiences we have in common and where we differ. The end result was an amazingly solid foundation and network of relationships that has so far fostered an informal, international network of health, medical, and herbal advice; articles and blogs in Poland, Croatia, and the U.S. (to name a few); joint research and writing that is in the works across oceans and borders; and an international exchange of postcards and stickers. What made this week possible and successful was the attention given to bringing as many different, directly affected stakeholders together. Those of us who convened are community activists, students, nurses, doctors, researchers, labor organizers, sex educators, designers, journalists, opera singers, and marketers. We have been trained in universities, medical schools, and military academies, and through support and opposition in our home communities. During one of our first shared hours together, we established ground rules. With so many (outspoken) people coming together, we created pages of ground rules – enough so that there was at least one or two that challenged each of us. The ground rule that I struggled with during that entire week – and that I continue to struggle with – stated, “We are people, not our countries.” On one level, this written rule forced me to identify when I was allowing my personal judgments about a country’s political history to influence my opinion of the individual person standing right in front of me. I continued to check myself all week long. These six words also challenged me to think about how I could contribute my individual experiences and perspectives (and the experiences and perspectives of my communities in the U.S.) while also recognizing the dominance of the United States in global politics and health care, and the privilege that I experience as a U.S. citizen. If I was one of the most prominent speakers in a given discussion, was I reinforcing 200 years of international dominance? I heard directly from medical students, doctors and activists from all over Europe describe ways that the U.S.-written DSM
(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the drug and health policies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration affect how they can provide and access health services. I couldn’t help but think of how the DSM (which defines trans and gender non-conforming identities as an illness) and the U.S.’s history of international and domestic sterilization abuse have contributed to current policies throughout Europe that require trans people to get sterilized in order to access coverage for gender affirming medical care and surgeries. On top of all this, I was one of four people who had learned English as our first language, out of the 35 people who convened in English for a week. It was within this context and within this growing understanding that my peers at the convening teased me for being from the U.S., and because my country’s language contains ridiculous phrases like “drug store.” It was within this context that my international peers held a space for me to continue to challenge myself and also recognize how informed and interconnected our current and future work is. As we continued to build a larger understanding of our various values and contexts, it became clear – partly through a presentation entitled “The Human Rights Ballet” – that the right to health care is a universal notion recognized by the legislative policies of every single country represented at the convening, with the exception of the U.S. Similarly, most of the countries’ laws had very strong connections with international human rights policies and tribunals – with the exception of the U.S. Unfortunately, what was true for all of us was that there is a huge disconnect between policy and implementation, between policy and access. One of our collective visions is to bring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights physically to every hospital – everywhere. After eight days, I left Strasbourg with a heart full of sweet moments of inspirational surprise – like when one person said to me, “I heard a rumor that incarcerated people can’t vote in the U.S. That can’t be true!” (Unfortunately it is. Only two states, Vermont and Maine, allow prisoners to vote, and ten states permanently disenfranchise at least some people with criminal convictions.) I came home to Massachusetts to find 33 new friends on Facebook! (One person at the meeting is not on Facebook – yet.) The Facebook status updates and emails that I wake up to each day continually remind me of my new network of people who reinvigorate me with hope for universal health care coverage in the U.S., and whom I know I can trust with solidarity work and joint projects because we have built a strong foundation of both shared values and clearly articulated differences. Lani facilitates local movement building work, organizes the annual conference, and manages outreach efforts. Lani has worked with CLPP for the past five years - as a student leader, trainer, on special convenings and as operations staff. Lani is a collective member of Translate Gender and on the advisory board of the Prison Birth Project.
The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program — 5
NOTES FROM A CLPP ALUM:
FROM COMMUNITY ACTIVIST TO REGISTERED NURSE
By Ryn Gluckman, RN, BSN
am sitting at the triage window at my local Emergency Department, stethoscope around my neck, fighting back a creeping and familiar panic that is threatening to clamp around my throat. It is 5 p.m., six hours into my shift, and as the local doctors’ offices close the waiting room here is starting to fill up and the line to sign in as a patient reaches out the door. I am the triage nurse, responsible for assessing each person who requests an exam and making a seemingly simple decision: sick or not sick. Today, everyone who signs in is sick. Three people with chest pain, an asthma exacerbation, a three-year-old with a deep laceration, a college student who took one too many tabs of LSD and is convinced that he is Moses. A young woman who has been sexually assaulted, a baby with a temperature of 104. Three skiing accidents and an elderly woman who took a double dose of insulin by mistake. The ambulance alert is ringing off the hook. Cardiac monitors are beeping, the sound of weeping can be heard from several rooms, and there is screaming down the hall as a doctor tries to reduce a shoulder dislocation. Nine years ago I had a quieter job as an organizer and project manager for the Civil Liberties and Public Policy and Population and Development programs at Hampshire College. I sat at a desk, behind a computer, and with a team of brilliant and energetic students and activists tried to address the cultural and policy issues that so deeply impede our autonomy over our bodies and spirits. Eleven years ago I was on the track to law school, finishing up a degree at Hampshire, and looking forward to using the legal system as a tool for justice for queer people and youth. I was in love with the theory, the intellectual gymnastics, and the feeling of empowerment as a handful of committed young people brought 1,000 activists together to lay blueprints for social justice. Gazing out into this packed hospital waiting room, my work as a registered nurse today seems a far cry from the law and policy work I did at Hampshire, and even the advocacy work we all did at CLPP and PopDev. Surely if you had told me nine years ago that this is what I would be doing today, I would have laughed in disbelief. But in retrospect I see that the core values and skills I bring to my nursing practice are deeply rooted in my experience as an activist and organizer. At Hampshire I was trained to think broadly and critically about the world around me. This way of thinking is essential to competent and compassionate nursing care. The core question of “sick or not sick” is the bare bones of my assessment, the frame on which I hang the soul of my nursing practice. When my patient sits before me, I must attempt to see the life that is larger than the specific problem they have in that moment. When I am treating patients I am always aware that I am not only treating their bodies, but also their spirits, their families and their communities, and all in the broader context of a national and international health care landscape. While the public debate rages over health care reform (a debate, I might add, in which nurses’ voices are largely absent) I am in the position of seeing exactly how lack of insurance, lack of access, the nursing shortage, and inattention to the needs of women and children play out in the lives of those I care for. My college education at Hampshire taught me that the antidote to spiritual 6 — The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program
isolation and rigid judgment is a global perspective. Cultivating this perspective has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding for the struggles my patients and my nursing colleagues face, not to mention more accurate assessments of the health needs of my community. But by far the most influential experience I had was working at CLPP and PopDev as an organizer, researcher, and writer. It was in those years that I was taught to listen to other people’s stories, although I’m not sure I understood the value of this lesson at the time. The stories I heard at the annual reproductive rights conference, particularly the abortion speak out; the reflections of other young people like myself grappling with social inequity in our personal and political lives; and the experiences of women living and working internationally were all exercises in really listening to what people say and what they do not say about their lives. Having worked as a nurse for the last three years, I see now that the stories I heard at Hampshire and the stories I hear from my patients every day are not that different. I take care of everybody: Republicans, young people, farmers, the elderly, Cambodians, Puerto Ricans, the wealthy, the drug-addicted and sober, Democrats, immigrants, business people. All with distinctive identities and unique histories. So while the initial treatment decision may very well pivot on “sick or not sick,” the deeper question is “suffering or not suffering?” When I listen closely I can fully and completely see the landscape of my patient’s suffering, regardless of whether it is a life or limb emergency. I am more able to respond compassionately and to see myself as being connected to that person, an ally in the midst of their troubles, a fellow human negotiating a difficult life. If I move past political and lifestyle difference, past identity politics, past education and economics, if I really employ the ability to listen that was cultivated at Hampshire, one thing becomes very, very clear. We all have the same fundamental yearning: a healthy birth, a rich life, a kind and gentle death. To see that there is a connection between all of us in this basic wish, and to attend to this connection – this principle is at the very heart of my nursing practice and, in fact, my practice as a member of this global community. As the next patient sits down in front of me, I consider that maybe it is not such a huge leap from activist/advocate to nurse. Getting together with another CLPP alum recently who is active in health care reform, I realized that the common ground I share with so many Hampshire alums and CLPP activists is that we are all tuned to human suffering and all ready to get our hands dirty to do something about it. The professions we arrive at in the end are merely tools in our toolbox, the vessels into which we pour our vision, effort and hope. Ryn is a writer, a registered nurse, and a Hampshire and CLPP/PopDev alum. She earned her Bachelor’s in Nursing at the University of Massachusetts and now provides emergency nursing care at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts.
continued from page 1
Keeping true to Andy’s words, the students embraced their opportunity to foster the “two-way learning venue” by facilitating panels that discussed the misconceptions they encounter when it comes to mindsets and resources on sex education and reproductive health in Oklahoma. In a very participant-driven discussion, local students shared their unique perspectives on the topic. Dennis Rudasill and Amanda Renk, OSU students and activists, facilitated a revealing session on the way sexual education is conducted in Oklahoma. Stories of abstinence lessons laced with the purity rhetoric filled the room, as well as accounts of the lack of discussions about any type of contraceptives. What was most interesting for me were the statistics Rudasill and Renk presented on the incredibly high pregnancy rate of Oklahoma teens compared to the national rate (111.5 births per 1,000 in Oklahoma vs. 73.9 in the U.S., about a third higher). “The teen pregnancy rate here is high, but we are not told what [teens’] options are,” commented a student. Even so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) don’t seem to be of much use. Although many CPCs are listed online as abortion clinics, several don’t offer any kind of support (i.e. neither abortions nor any type of alternative resources or medical or mental health support). One student even mentioned the person at the CPC told her to “hope for a miscarriage.” Although these and other stories startled me, it made me realize Dr. Mason’s two-way learning venue is exactly what is needed in conservative states. These students’ accounts opened up several national leaders’ eyes, as well as mine, to a very unique perspective on reproductive justice. These students were calling for support, for information, for resources that could aid their reproductive justice advocacy in Oklahoma, but for the most part they had to (literally) go undercover or secretively navigate around the state to get them. As the event wrapped up, I witnessed local students openly making connections, networking, and strategizing their next steps with national organizations—a rare opportunity for Oklahomans, I’ve come to learn. It was then when it dawned on me this had been one of the best workshops I’ve attended. It was full of life, it was invigorating and catalyzing... and it gave me hope. It made me realize there was, perhaps, no need for me to fear my move here. The winds sweeping down the plain could be blowing in a new direction.
“There is no placeopportunity An invaluable like Hampshire College, and no conference like for activists and academics CLPP. There was no better place from around the world to for me to discover my passion for remind ourselves that we re the movement.”
all in this together.
“CLPP created the Eye-opening space for me to find and powerful. myself.”
“CLPP friends from high best had a massive impact on how we organize, our school It was truly motivation, our academics, magical, galvanizing, and our personal lives. and inspirational, and we ll Thank you and hope to see be there next year! you for the next 30 years.”
I attended with my 5
Help bring new leaders into the movement by making an online Help launch our 4th decade at activism donation to CLPP of and bring new leaders into the http://clpp.hampshire.edu/donate movement! Every gift will be used to support Please use the enclosed envelope to CLPP’s new leadership projects. send as generous a gift as you can, or Thank you for helping us keep the visit us at conference accessible to everyone.
http://clpp.hampshire.edu/donate Every gift will directly support CLPP’s new leadership projects, including the annual activist conference, student internships, and young activist network. Your support will help sustain CLPP’s work for decades to come, ensuring a strong and diverse movement for reproductive justice.
A native Puerto Rican, Akira has worked with youth and women’s empowerment organizations in New Orleans, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, including San Miguel Medical Group in PR and CLPP at Hampshire College. She currently continues her endeavors advocating for social justice as a language development educator with Teach for America in Tulsa, OK.
The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program — 7
Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program Hampshire College 893 West Street Amherst, MA 01002-3359
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NonProfit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Hampshire College
CLPP’s annual conference connects young people to reproductive justice organizations and campaigns locally, nationally and internationally, and provides them with information, analysis, and “how-to” organizing to bring back to their own campuses and communities. The conference presents a broad view of the issues, linking reproductive freedom to a broad range of human rights and social justice issues, including health care, race and class, LGBTQI+ rights and gender justice, pregnancy and the freedom to parent, environmental justice, immigrant and worker rights, youth liberation, and freedom from violence and abuse.
8 — The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program
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