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Posts Tagged ‘repro’

Activists across the country are making sure that their voices, and their stories, are being heard. We refuse to stay silent. A perfect example of strength, courage and determination is Samaria Johnson. She’s an organizer at the Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice, which was created out of our Southern Regional Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy Training. Her dedication to reproductive justice and the empowerment of Alabamians has made her the activist of the month.

Read her story here:

I’ve always gotten a bit of a thrill for bad girls. Whatever their faults, they stepped out of bounds and made their own decisions. The drive to support women and challenge misogynistic, patriarchal institutions and attitudes was jumpstarted early in my life, inspired by the bad girls of history and legend. In daily Bible study at my Christian elementary schools I questioned the assumptions that Eve’s forbidden fruit consumption was fundamentally morally wrong, and in college considered the social structures that condemned Helen for not conforming to traditional feminine roles and behaviors. These women and others took initiative – to encourage their own education and intelligence, to freely express their sexuality without guilt or hesitation, to control where they ended up in life and how.

Amanda Reyes and Samaria Johnson

Amanda Reyes and Samaria Johnson


I was raised and surrounded by generous, strong, complicated women at home, my mom and grandmothers and aunts. Most of my cousins are women. All of my closest friends are women. I grew up in a world of women, reading about them and looking up to them and learning from them. I have spent my entire life loving and being loved by women. There was never any question about my life’s purpose, once I realized it. My own strength has come from generations of women nurturing and fighting for each other. It continues to grow by relentlessly doing the same.

Over the past year I’ve become especially active in the pro-woman community. As a student at the University of Alabama, where I study history and am on track to graduate in Spring 2015, I joined the newly-formed Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice. I’ve organized

Samaria Johnson

Samaria Johnson

volunteering, collected signatures for sex education laws, attended potlucks to network with fellow student progressives, hosted documentary screenings. I serve as an escort at the local Tuscaloosa clinic and, standing outside the clinic in front of anti-choice protestors, have incredible leverage to explore and confront anti-woman attitudes. Being on the ground is incredibly important to me. It’s easy to get trapped in an ivory tower, and forget the nitty-gritty of actual people and the very real reasons why I’ve chosen the work that I do. At last March’s National Advocacy Weekend, I was able to connect with people whose experiences with society’s ubiquitous misogyny, heterosexism, and racism absolutely horrified me. At the same time, their stories reinforced my personal convictions. That horror was necessary in reminding me of why I work.

This summer I’m interning at the Feminist Majority Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. I’m working on a few different projects, including creating a sexual assault toolkit for universities and colleges. I’ve taken on as president of AASRJ at the University. For the next year, my fellow officers have adopted “sex positivity” as our theme. With that in mind we’ll be spotlighting black and queer intersections in sexual and reproductive justice, focus on religious outreach, and educating other students about safe expressions of sexuality and relationships. These kinds of opportunities are what dreams are made of. Thanks to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, FMF, and a number of other organizations and fellow activists, as well as the ladies in my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to have them and the strength of conviction to take advantage of them!

Samaria Johnson

Samaria Johnson

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By: Dian Alarcon

Mil gracias por todo el apoyo y enseñanzas en esta semana de abogacía. Realmente fue una experiencia enriquecedora. No importa cuántas veces la hagas siempre es una experiencia nueva que te enseña el poder que tiene tu voz. Aunque solo seas uno, es como el cardumen de peces, si esta solo es más fácil que un depredador se lo pueda comer pero cuando está acompañado por miles o cientos de peces, los depredadores piensan que eres un animal demasiado grande y poderoso para atacarlo y desisten de comerlos.
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Para mí la mayor reflexión esta semana es que cuando trabajamos ordenadamente en equipo, con pasión y todas con el mismo enfoque logramos llevar nuestro mensaje de Salud, Dignidad y Justicia más allá de nuestras fronteras.

NLIRH hizo un ejemplo de trabajo en equipo, muy ordenadas y cada una sabiendo cual era su roll en esta semana. Soy muy observadora y de todo me gusta aprender así que de cada instante que pasamos tantas mujeres poderosas juntas aprendí algo. Cada una tiene sus talentos y hay que saber descubrirlos y ponerlos a trabajar a favor de nuestras metas.

De los medíos de comunicación aprendí el gran poder que tiene y que es importante aprender a manipularlos para nuestra conveniencia. Aprendí que también tenemos que cuidar nuestro mensaje para que no lo editen en nuestra contra.

Trabajar en equipo con todas las organizaciones nos hace más fuertes.

Un Abrazo para tod@s y gracias por todos sus cuidados.


More reflections of our 2013 National Advocacy Weekend

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Gloria Malone is a young mother

Gloria Malone is a young mother

Gloria’s school counselor refused to speak to her when she became pregnant in her sophomore year in high school. Not only was she left without support at her school, but she also faced criticism within her community. Her daughter is now 6 years old.

Gloria is currently a student at Baruch College, proving to the non-believers that young mothers can make a difference. Her participation in our Young Moms training and our Young Mothers Briefing in Washington, D.C. fed her passion to become an advocate for young mothers. She strives to let other young mothers know that they are not alone and are more than a statistic. When asked why she got involved with NLIRH’s Young Moms, she said, “I want to be part of the change.”

Training with the young mothers.

Training with the young mothers.

NLIRH is the only national Latina health and reproductive justice organization representing an increasingly diverse and growing Latina population in this country. With the generous donations we received last year, throughout 2012 we were able to:

  • Train 10 young mothers on issues that affect Latinas and reproductive health.
  • Mobilized a group of young mothers to attend a briefing in Washington D.C. where they spoke to policymakers, hill staffers, advocates and allies about their experiences and the ways in which they can support young mothers.

NLIRH is committed to continuing its work with and on behalf of young mothers by providing more trainings and support. Through our work we hope to continue to grow and create change within our communities and the lives of our members. Please show that you too are part of the change and believe in the work that we do by making a tax deductible donation today.

Thank you in advance for your generosity and we wish you a Poderosa 2013!

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