Leydi Bautista – young mother of two
My mother decided to have me at the age of 20 without any support from my “father” or our family. She was a young mother, living in poor conditions in Colombia, who barely made enough money to support herself, much less raise a child. Despite all this, she was able to provide for me and for my siblings as they came. However, I oftentimes imagine how different things would have been if my mother had a support system pre, during, and post pregnancy. I wonder how many more young mothers are out there without anyone to turn to or anyone who shares their experiences and can lend a shoulder to lean on. Which is why I’m so excited for the work the young mother’s group in New York is going to do.
Young mothers during their first training
The first time this group of young mothers set foot into the office they were shy and hesitant to open up about the hardships they’ve faced as young mothers. Their babies sat on our office floor, too scared to ask for snacks or even a juice box. With time, the mothers got to know each other better, they shared their fears of not becoming someone, of hating baby throw up, of deciding not to have an abortion even though they knew it would be difficult from here on after. Many gatherings that led to a briefing in Washington DC where these mothers stressed the importance of investing in them. They walked around DC with a sense of ownership; owning their stories, their experiences, their struggles, their goals, hopes and aspirations for the future that awaits them and their babies too.
Poderosa young mothers in DC
Marymar, one of the young mothers who went to DC shared her experience with us:
It was a fun experience and I would love to do more things like that. I felt motivated. I want to continue being vocal about the issues young mother’s face and to get more girls to do this. Even though there are people that don’t think about our future, we have to do it! We have to do everything we can to make sure others work with us and help us out. I want my kids to look up to me and to be proud of me. I’m doing all this so they can be happy. I want my daughter to one day say, “that’s my mother!” and that she’ll follow in my footsteps and help others. All I want to do is be somebody in life and everyone will see that I made it even though they didn’t believe I could. I will make it, that is a promise.
For these moms, the journey is not over though, it has just begun. As we continue to grow together and learn from each we hope to see real change in our community. These young moms are determined to obtain the resources they need to help their families or to create paths that are not there for them the way my mother did. From having access to child care, scholarships, food and shelter, comprehensive sex education to parent only parks, they will continue to fight for it all. But they won’t be alone.
Perlita and her baby boy
One thing is certain; they are not fighting for themselves but for their kid(s). Their kids are the reason they are able to get out of bed sometimes, why some of them are still enrolled in college even though it is so difficult to find child care. Their kids are the reason why they’re standing up to the injustices and inequalities they face every day. Because some day, things will change, and their little ones will be there to witness it and know their mothers fought for this. Without realizing it, these moms have already become someone in life. They are warriors and creators of their own destinies.
If you are also a young mom in New York and you’d like to get involved with us, connect with us here. Also, check out this video of the young mothers in DC.
Posted in From the Field, Healthy Pregnancies, Motherhood, Reproductive Justice, Youth | Tagged babies, dc, kids, mom, nlirh, repro health, sex education, take action, young mother | 1 Comment »
Sign reads: “Soy poderosa and my voice matters because i am a mother. a teacher. a figther. an activist and a strong latina”
Latinas are making sure that their voices and their stories are being heard. We are not silent. A perfect example of the determination Latinas have towards personal growth, justice to all communities around all issues not just Reproductive Health, is Cynthia Brito. She is an organizer at the Latin@ Youth Action League. Her dedication to lifting Latina voices in Illinois has made her the activist of the month.
Read her story here:
I am powerful. Through my lived knowledge, experience, and activism, I am an agent of change. We all have a transformative power to change society, but as Latinas, our unique lived experience amplifies our ability to understand society through a powerful lens.
As a young girl, I experienced molestation and assault. My life was filled with years of violence and abuse. My first experience with racism occurred when I moved from the city to the suburbs at the age of 9. The combination of violence, racism, and lack of support for young Latinas set the stage for a destructive path in my life. As time went on, I was involved in several abusive relationships, with the most severe of these relationships nearly ending my life.
I became a mom at the age of 17 and again at 19. As a teen mom in the suburbs I experienced negative interactions at an individual and institutional level. I became aware that I was not only looked down up for being a young mother, but also for being a Latina mother. It was through this lived experience that my perspective of the world began to unfold.
Cynthia Brito and her 2 girls
I’m a co-founder of the Latin@ Youth Action League (L@YAL), a fairly new organization in DuPage County. Our work focuses primarily on issues the Latino community faces in the suburbs of DuPage County. Much of our recent work has focused on undocumented youth. We have held rallies, workshops, and provided access to resources to many youth in the area. More recently, we decided to organize an event around Latina reproductive health issues.
Cynthia Brito, Latina activist in IL
I first learned about the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) while I was a teaching assistant for a Latino Studies class at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The following year, I taught my own course: Latinas in the United States. The NLIRH helped students become aware of the complex dynamics in the issues Latinas face around reproductive health. I also successfully completed the E-LOLA Webinar and organized a Cafecito in collaboration with HABLAMOS, a Latina organization in Elmhurst College. Many factors interconnect to create the current political backlash against Latinas reproductive rights, and NLIRH is a powerful agent that brings them to light.
Thank you Cynthia for all the work you do, and will continue to do, for our community. We are honored and excited to work with you on many things to come. Congratulations on being this months activist of the month!
Check out the work NLIRH is doing in other states by liking our facebook and maybe YOU can be our next poderosa profile.
Posted in Reproductive Justice | Tagged cynthia brito, L@YAL, lola training, mother, pregnancy, reproductive justice | Leave a Comment »
Somos Poderos@s and our voices matter. They matter even if we are Latin@s. They matter even if we have had an abortion(s). They matter even if we are LGBTQ. They matter even if we are undocumented. They matter even if we are disabled. Our voices matter regardless of any identity or socioeconomic standing. Our voices matter in, out and beyond election day.
For the past two months leading to election day our activists around the country were making sure their voices, beliefs, values, and the issues they cared about were being heard while reaching others.
In New York, we worked with young moms around the lack of resources for them and their babies. The highlight of all our work was when we made it to DC. The young mothers spoke for themselves on a panel. They shared their stories and the struggle of finding child care, health resources, food and even obtaining a higher education. Young mothers have a voice and it needs to be heard.
New York Young Moms in DC
Continue Reading »
Posted in civic engagement, Events, From the Field, Reproductive Justice, Take Action | Leave a Comment »
RJ Loteria Board
Last Tuesday, Oct. 23, our incredible activists at MI LOLA hosted a truly memorable event: Reproductive Justice Bingo/Loteria with Gloria Steinem.
For those of you who have never played Mexican Loteria, here is a picture of a typical loteria set. We decided to take this traditional game, and spruce it up by changing up old cards and adding new ones like (as pictured here): Vote on Nov. 6; Same sex marriage; a Vagina; a Condom, Birth Control Pills. Continue Reading »
Posted in civic engagement, Events, LANs, Reproductive Justice, Take Action | 1 Comment »
Hace unas semanas, el Instituto Nacional de Latinas para la Salud Reproductiva (NLIRH por sus siglas en inglés) tuvo la gran oportunidad de acompañar a un grupo de madres jóvenes de Nueva York a Washington, DC. En Washington, estas jóvenes hablaron con congresistas y nuestros colegas sobre sus experiencias como madres jóvenes y la situación de las madres jovenes en sus vidas y comunidades. Hablaron de cual es el problema en realidad cuando se trata de las madres jóvenes (es decir, la falta de acceso a recursos como cuidado de salud incluyendo anticonceptivos y al cuidado de niños asequible) y como el presupuesto nacional afecta a estas familias.
El presupuesto nacional es importante para las madres y familias jóvenes porque en este se dedican los fondos para programas imporantes para la salud de esta comunidad – programas como el Título X, el cual provee cuidado de salud reproductiva, y programas como el Fondo de Desarrollo y Cuidado de Niños, el cual provee cuidado para los niños de algunas mujeres de bajos ingresos. Pero por las divisiones corrientes en el Congreso, es posible que, en vez de decidir con cuidado donde se puede recortar el presupuesto para poder bajar la deuda del país, se hagan recortes devastadores a través del presupuesto entero, recortando y a veces eliminando programas esenciales para las latinas. Este método de recortes es el secuestro fiscal (“sequestration” o “sequester” en inglés).
Este plan de recortes se diseñó para obligar al Congreso a tomar decisiones difíciles; nunca se tuvo el propósito de que estos recortes entraran en vigor. Pero ahora, por falta de acción del Congreso, es posible que esta sea nuestra realidad. Recortar los gastos de esta manera simplemente no tiene sentido.
En vez de recortar programas que afectarían a las familias jóvenes y a las Latinas de bajos ingresos, el Congreso debe recortar el déficit mediante el cierre de vacíos legales de impuestos corporativos y la suspensión de subsidios a las compañías petroleras grandes en un momento en que estas jamás han sido tan rentables. Podemos ahorrar dinero si les recortamos los subsidios a los millonarios y modificamos el código de impuestos de manera que sea más sencillo y más justo para las familias Latinas.
Por ahora, estamos esperando el próximo paso, listas para tomar acción. No podemos dejar que simplemente recorten los programas esenciales para las latinas sabiendo que hay mejores maneras de que el país pague la deuda nacional.
Posted in Healthy Pregnancies, Politics, Reproductive Justice | Leave a Comment »
This summer, NLIRH hosted our Southern Regional LOLA Training in Charlotte, North Carolina. Latinas from 8 states in the region including, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia met to network, strategize and organize with other new and experienced Latina activists around reproductive justice.
In this blog post, I highlight the work of three Poderosas from Virginia who met each other for the first time at our LOLA training, left our training inspired and motivated to take on the challenge of creating a Latina Advocacy Network (LAN) in the DC-MD-VA area.
The new “DMV LOLA” has moved full force with several Soy Poderosa and My Voice Matters events. Two Sundays ago they teamed up with Voto Latino and hosted a successful Voter Registration Drive in a Latino neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia.
Their next event is a Happy Hour Meet & Greet where they want to invite all interested folks to meet and network with one another, and become members of the DMV LOLA. Furthermore, they want to continue to motivate folks to show our power as a community to vote, as well as encourage those who cannot vote to speak to their friends, family members, and community to vote on November 6th.
So if you’re in the DC-MD-VA area, join them at their:
Happy Hour Meet and Greet!
Tues. Oct. 23rd, 6-9pm
Vapiano, 1800 M St NW (between N 18th St & N Connecticut Ave), Washington, DC 20036
Lastly, our folks are gearing up to do outreach with the ANSWER Coalition for the Maryland DREAM Act! We want to shout out these poderosa activists for stepping up in our communities and creating a space for other poderosas to take action and most importantly making sure OUR VOICE MATTERS.
If you’re outside of the DC-MD-VA area, Take the pledge: Make your voice heard this election!
Visit our website to find Latina activists in your area, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to create your own Latina Advocacy Network.
Posted in Reproductive Justice | Leave a Comment »
Undocuqueer art by Julio Salgado
Today is National Coming Out Day, and though this day is usually reserved for coming out as LGBTQ, I want to complicate that and honor the undocuqueers, who are complicating the nationwide picture of LGBTQ people and that of immigrants:
We are queer undocumented youth. We cannot afford to be in either the queer or undocumented closet. We cannot and will not hide; we cannot and will not let those who haven’t been in our shoes decide and tell us how to act, how to feel and that this isn’t our home. We have the right to be whoever we want to be and love whoever we want to love. It is a shame that the only path we have to legalization is to lead a heterosexual lifestyle. We shouldn’t and won’t conform to such ideas. We have a right to live and love to the full extent of our capacity.
We urge you to come out! Now is the time to come and proclaim that you’re UndocuQueer, Unafraid and Unashamed!
Of course, the existence of people inhabiting these two spheres is not new: immigrants have always been part of the struggle for queer and trans liberation, as queer and trans folk have long contributed to immigrants’ rights and racial justice movements. But bringing together immigration and queerness under the “coming out” umbrella has been a refreshing and beautiful addition to the national conversation. In a political context in which the notion of coming out has in many ways moved away from the beginning of a larger conversation about social justice and towards the individual achievement of “normal” gayness, lending the notion of coming out to the undocumented experience adds nuance and reminds us that queer liberation is inextricably tied to the liberation of all marginalized communities.
So this coming out day, I am honoring the undocuqueers and all the queer and trans folks out there reminding us not only that there is no queer liberation without collective liberation, but that it is indeed possible. ¡Adelante!
Posted in Immigration, LGBTQ | Leave a Comment »