The 3rd annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice starts today August 6-10, 2012! The theme “¡Soy Poderosa!” centers our power is as Latinas. Keep an eye out for our posts discussing our power!
Under the rallying cry of our ongoing “¡Soy Poderosa!” campaign, we will be lifting up stories of Latina leadership and civic engagement as well as taking action across the country and online to demonstrate our power and hold decision makers accountable.
We know that Latinas are actively engaged in shaping our families and communities. But we aren’t always seen as the powerful constituency that we are. ¡Soy Poderosa! puts our work and strength at the forefront, in support of our reproductive justice agenda.
Ways to get involved:
Show Your Power: Go here to submit your Soy Poderosa photo! Let’s show how powerful our community really is.
I wrote a very brief intro yesterday, questioning how we frame the question even and who gets to speak for themselves vs. who is spoken for.
My family is an immigrant family. I have taken heat from other Latinas for claiming this, for claiming being the first generation in my Puerto Rican family to be born in the United States. It is often raised that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, so that the migration patterns of the women who came before me, my tias and later my abuela, who came to New York looking for work in the garment industries, mujeres who came before their husbands to work in sweatshops run buy famous fashion designers, mujeres who now can barely see – and not just because of age, don’t matter or worse, don’t exist. As amiga Bianca Laureano wrote in her submission to the blog carnival :
Many folks think those narratives are not worthy or important, when really they have impacted me! And don’t I matter? Don’t the women with similar testimonios and experiences matter?
Bringing this back to the issue of immigrant women and reproductive justice, the buzzwords, according to mainstream (read white led) feminism and non-profits, is choice and access. The choice of how to prevent and plan pregnancies, allegedly revolutionized by the birth control pill, used Puerto Rican women of my grandmothers’ generation as the perfect test subjects. When our uteri weren’t being experimented on, they were being forcibly sterilized. My tias and my grandmothers weren’t accused of harboring anchor babies in their wombs, turning the possibility of “poor brown babies” being born as U.S. citizens as threats because of the colonial occupation of Puerto Rico sure sounds pretty damn close.
For the Latina Week Of Action For Reproductive Justice I decided to talk a little bit more about condoms and condom usage and my relationship/experience with condoms. It’s not often that we even see condoms used in the media especially media focusing on us as Latin@s, Caribeñ@s and people of Color. Although some of us think condoms are all around us, accessible, and an important part of decreasing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) including HIV, the reality is there’s limited dialogue and even less proper use of them that centers our community.
To contextualize this piece a bit more: while growing up I listened to a lot of Hip-Hop music and still do. I can vividly recall listening to Snoop Dogg on Dr. Dre’s song “ Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang” where Snoop said
And before me dig out a bitch* I have ta’ find a contraceptive
You never know she could be earnin’ her man
and learnin’ her man – and at the same time burnin’ her man
Now you know I ain’t with that shit, Lieutenant
Ain’t no pussy good enough to get burnt while I’m up in it
Often the issue of reproductive rights is seen strictly as an abortion access issue, when for so many mujeres in our comunidades, the issue comes way before there is a pregnancy. Choice needs to be framed into real options over how Latinas prevent pregnancy. This means dealing with economic barriers as well as barriers put into place because it is assumed that Latinas are not smart enough to make decisions about their own bodies. Just think about the current debate regarding immigrant women. Latina fertility is seen as dangerous and threatening, so it makes sense that the next step would be control Latina fertility.
All women need affordable access to birth control services, supplies and visits. However, barriers to low-cost or no-cost contraception are still an unjust reality. This results in many Latinas having to struggle to afford birth control or expensive insurance copayments for birth control.
Urge your representative to ask the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support comprehensive family planning services that include contraception as a key women’s health service under the Women’s Health Amendment.
All of our posts and the posts of others will be linked to the Latina Institute’s blog, Nuestra Vida, Nuestra Voice> (Our Life, Our Voice). We invite our readers to visit that site as well to further the conversation.