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Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

After it was reported that a group called Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles is planning on putting up billboards around Los Angeles claiming that “The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb,” NLIRH released the following statement denouncing the effort.

“These offensive billboards are nothing more than political ploys designed to stigmatize Latina women and communities of color and restrict access to reproductive health care.

“The organizations promoting these ads are focused on sensationalizing unintended pregnancy and abortion care, and cutting even more women off from the reproductive health care they seek.

“We should be doing all we can to support women making the best personal reproductive health care decisions for themselves and their families.

“As the only national Latina reproductive health and justice organization, we are outraged by these condescending ad campaigns.  These offensive ads have no place in our communities.”

Historically, racial and economic disparities limit quality health care options for Latinas and communities of color, including family planning services. Studies show that African American women and Latinas are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured and often lack basic access to birth control and comprehensive sex education due to fundamental structural inequities in society.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health stands in solidarity with other reproductive justice organizations, such as Trust Black Women and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice in condemning this campaign.

Stay tuned for updates about this offensive campaign and ways you can take action.

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By Rita Martinez, Development and Communications Intern

Two latina young women at a computer

Post updated after the jump, August 19

While research has shown that abstinence-only sex education programs don’t work, the University of Central Florida has ignored this fact and recently developed a new virtual reality game which delivers one message, loud and clear: say “no” to sex, and win.

This virtual game features avatars that simulate “real-life” scenarios and proclaims to teach young teens how to resist the advances of their peers. It claims to provide girls with a medium to understand the subtleties surrounding the peer pressure to engage in sexual behavior. Noble as it seems, this game is inherently ill-informed as it takes on a very narrow-minded approach to sex education.

According to one of the developers, Professor Anne Norris, the ultimate goal is “to reduce pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease among the young Latina population.” I wonder how they intend to do that exactly- will they attempt to be culturally relevant? And if that is indeed the goal of this game, why not give young Latinas a multi-faceted perspective that empowers them to explore the full spectrum of options available to them? No, instead this game purports an outdated view of Latinas, drawing faulty conclusions from their higher pregnancy and STI rates. What they should see is that these health disparities are not a result of a young girl’s ineptitude to deflect sexual advances, but a lack of an integrated approach to comprehensive sex education.

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Coordinators of the anti-choice billboard campaign in Atlanta have arranged a “Freedom Bus for the Unborn” that began on July 23rd in Birmingham, Alabama.  Funded by Priests for Life of New York, this anti-choice operation exploits the historical site across from the 16th Street Baptist Church where the Ku Klux Klan killed four girls in a bombing in 1963.  Alveda King, the niece of Dr. King and an employee of Priests for Life, will head the anti-abortion campaign in an attempt to lend credence to the “black children are an endangered species” mantra.

These freedom rides warp historical facts to suggest that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King opposed reproductive freedoms.  Much like other anti-choice organizations, the coordinators behind the freedom rides co-opt the language of civil rights, a movement based on expanding the right to make choices about one’s own life, to impinge on the decision-making abilities of black women.  To speak out against these misrepresentations of facts and pro-choice ideologies, three groups – SisterSong, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, and SisterLove, Inc. – organized a counter-protest at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta last Saturday.  Be on the lookout for more counter-protests, or organize one with fellow reproductive justice activists, to combat these freedom rides and put forth a vision of civil rights which empowers, rather than stigmatizes, women of color and seeks to advance, rather than roll back, our freedoms.

By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern

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By Rita Martinez, Development and Communications Intern

I recently read a blog post at RH Reality Check about the reproductive health threats that toxic chemicals pose for women’s health.

Spurred by the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill controversy, this post strikes an interesting point. This disaster is not the first time that communities in the Gulf have had their environment threatened by corporate practices.

Kimberly Inez McGuire recaps the environmental injustices that have plagued the Gulf region for quite some time:

For decades, industrial waste and contamination in the Gulf states have been recognized for their role in causing health problems ranging from cancer to asthma. Residents have tested positive for exposure to some of the worst reproductive toxicants—chemicals that have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, low birth weight, low sperm count, and developmental and respiratory disorders for children exposed in utero.

This is a tragic reality for long-time residents, many of whom are primarily African American and Latino. Clearly, this is a case of environmental racism, whereby the environment of low-income and/or communities of color are disproportionally targeted for the location of polluting industries that expose them to much higher levels of toxic chemicals over their more affluent (and often White) counterparts.

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By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern

Immigrants’ rights activists have their work cut out for them due to a series of anti-immigrant legislation passed in various states.  First, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a bill that requires immigrants to carry their documents at all times and obliges police to interrogate individuals if there is cause to suspect they’re undocumented.  This law, which allows police to stop people on the basis of “foreign characteristics,” inspired an ordinance in Fremont, Nebraska that prohibits businesses from hiring undocumented immigrants and bars landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants.  Most recently, after permitting a resolution praising Arizona on the state’s immigration law to be sent without his signature, Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee has signed a controversial, anti-immigrant bill into law:

The law requires local law enforcement agencies to contact federal immigration officials if the citizenship of a person in custody can not be confirmed within three days. Under the agreement, no counties are exempt, and jailers wouldn’t have to deport anyone.

The provisions of this law are frightening for immigrants living in Tennessee for several reasons.  First, the legislation stigmatizes those who cannot confirm their citizenship.  This language is ambiguous at best for legal permanent residents, let alone undocumented individuals.  Not everyone has immediate access to their passport or documents, citizens or not.

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By Lucy Panza, DC Policy Intern

Last Thursday, three women and one girl testified at a jam-packed hearing in Congress on how Arizona’s latest immigration measure is affecting women and children.  Emotions poured out as the women and girl told their stories of detainment and freedom, racism and hope, family separation and community bonding.  As reported by AP:

The partisan event was assembled by Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva to pressure the Obama administration and Congress to overhaul immigration laws and to challenge Arizona’s tough new immigration law.

First there was 10-year old* Katherine Figueroa, who cried as she asked the Members of Congress assembled, “Please tell President Obama to stop putting parents in jail, all they want is a better life for their kids.”  She talked about how proud she was that despite her parents being detained by Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio, she could still make it to school on most days.

Then came 23-year old Silvia Rodriguez, who despite not having nationality documents, refuses to call herself illegal or even undocumented.  She has been accepted to a graduate school program at Harvard and is struggling to come up with the money to attend this fall.  When Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez called her the best example of an American based on her hard work and sacrifice, she tearfully thanked him because she had never been called an American before.

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By Nicole Catá, Policy Intern

On June 1st, 2010, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and Law Students for Reproductive Justice co-hosted a series of panels and discussions called the 2010 Summer Intern Training on Reproductive Rights Law & Justice.  Around 20 students attended the event, which explored current trends in the reproductive justice movement from a legal perspective.  The first, and perhaps the most controversial, activity was called “Next Wave of Abortion Restrictions:  Banning Abortions Based on the Sex or Race of the Fetus.”  Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, Staff Attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, explained that conservative legislators such as Congressman Trent Franks, R-Ariz., are pushing sex and race selection abortion bans in federal and state legislatures.

Given the controversial nature of these proposals, the presenters decided to have each participant stand along a line representing a continuum based on how strongly he or she agreed or disagreed with a particular statement.  It seemed that none of us could come to a consensus about any of the questions:  Does sex-selection abortion rely on or enforce gender stereotypes?  Is it natural to want to balance sex representation in a family?  Is choosing the sex or physical characteristics of a fetus any different from stating one’s preferences on an adoption form?  Many of us stood somewhere in the middle of the continuum, floundering between a simple “yes” or “no.”

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