This February, the National Network of Abortion Funds is featuring Black leaders in Reproductive Justice who have organized at the intersections of Reproductive Justice and Black liberation, including Black leaders in abortion funds!
We invite you to spend Black History Month envisioning a world that dismantles harmful systems, lifting up and centering those who are marginalized, and strengthening our movements through dialogue, storytelling, and intentional conversations. This campaign for Black Reproductive Justice leaders also connects to the Heart-to-Heart Abortion Conversations we’re having during February that will be a catalyst towards making our vision for abortion access possible.
Black and Bold Expansion Pack for our Heart-to-Heart Abortion Cards
Download, print, and use these cards with friends and groups who want to explore topics of Black liberation and Reproductive Justice! The cards will help build some knowledge and open up important questions about what we can do to lift up Black leadership.
Black RJ Leader Spotlights
A native to the southside of Chicago, Brittany is passionate about centering Black women and mothers in her work. Drawing from her own experience and vulnerability, Brittany uses her writing to elevate the lived experiences of Black women and mothers in America. She has been featured in outlets such as Teen Vogue, Cassius Life and Vice. As an individual member and a former grantee of the Chicago Abortion Fund, Brittany leads local grassroots efforts to promote abortion access and reproductive freedom at the intersections of gender, race and class. There is nothing Brittany enjoys more than dancing it out with her four daughters and catching up on How to Get Away With Murder.
How can we center the voices and experiences of people most impacted by abortion in our work & movements?
Listening to them first and foremost! I see so many organizations assume they know what is best for people who’ve had abortions without seeing them as full individuals with many complexities, who don’t need to be saved! By listening to us, folks will learn what we need, if anything at all. See and honor our full humanity. We are the ones we have been waiting for.
Amanda Lamm is the Center Program Coordinator at All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, which houses the Hoosier Abortion Fund. She started with the fund as a volunteer in 2015 and became staff in 2016. At All-Options, Amanda works primarily with the Hoosier Diaper Program and the Hoosier Abortion Fund, developing and refining programming and coordinating client services. She is the architect of the recently piloted Caller Follow-up Program for the Hoosier Abortion Fund. She is also heavily involved with All-Options’ training, organizing, and movement building efforts. She has had the opportunity to represent All-Options at various conferences, including Sistersong’s Let’s Talk about Sex, the National Network of Abortion Funds’ National Organizing Summit, and Take Root. She is enthusiastic about supporting families, funding abortion, and fighting white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy. Her feminism is pro-Black, pro-hoe, and anti-respectability. She lives in Bloomington with her spouse and two dogs.
How does medical fatphobia lead to Black people not getting reproductive care?
As a fat Black woman, I have a very intimate and frustrating understanding of the ways in which the medical profession stigmatizes fat people. When we seek treatment or preventative care, we are often faced with fat-shaming and have our illnesses explained away because of our weight. A perfect example of this happened to me quite recently: I went to the doctor to seek treatment for a sinus infection and my doctor proceeded to talk to me about weight loss when my weight had no bearing on that particular illness. Fat folks often dissociate from our bodies while in the presence of medical professionals because of the additional stress associated with being shamed, invalidated and disrespected due to the size of our bodies, or rather our doctors’ perceptions of the size of our bodies. Doctors’ perceptions of our Blackness also put us at risk of not receiving proper care. Assumptions are made about our bodies, about our family histories, about our socioeconomic status, and about whether or not we are deserving of care. Constantly being scrutinized by medical professionals can lead fat folks to distrust our own experiences of our bodies, feel undue levels of stress when going to the doctor, or avoid medical care at all. This includes reproductive health care. When we do not trust our bodies because of fatphobic and racist experiences, we often ignore symptoms that would prompt us to seek medical care. STIs, pregnancies, cancer and other health issues can go undiagnosed when we feel like we need to avoid care because of fatphobic medical professionals. We all deserve dignity in health care, regardless of our race, gender, economic status, ability level, or size.
Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and builds toward liberatory change in their home, the South. As the Deputy Director of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, they focus on strengthening ARC-Southeast’s operations, growing their organizing and programming, and amplifying their organizational voice.
We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something. What is one thing you can do to be in solidarity with Black people accessing reproductive justice?
Trusting Black women, femmes, and people. What a beautiful world we would live in if we gave Black people the grace and space to make decisions for themselves free from stigma and fear, because we trust them as the experts of their lives.
Oriaku Njoku, Co-founder and Executive Director of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, works at the intersection of abortion access and reproductive justice. Working as a health worker in abortion clinics in Atlanta, she believed that we could do more to advocate for folks in communities directly impacted by reproductive oppression in more meaningful ways. Currently, she supports Southerners in navigating pathways to accessing safe, affordable, and compassionate abortion care through funding, practical support, and advocacy. Oriaku is also on the Board of the National Network of Abortion Funds. She truly believes that we can and will create a cultural shift around how we talk about abortion in the South and invites you to join her in making reproductive justice a reality. And when she has some free time, she loves indulging in various self-care activities which include but are not limited to cupcakes, bourbon, cuddles, and body rolls. Connect with her @oreawku on twitter – all views her own.
Name one or more African American reproductive justice activists you want to celebrate.
I have a special corner of my heart dedicated to the brilliance of Byllye Avery. I love that as a Black Southern Woman, she and some colleagues took it upon themselves to open the Gainesville Women’s Health Center after years of helping folks access abortions when it was not legal. She reminds me that the work we do to at ARC-Southeast is necessary but not necessarily new. Her work and the work she continues to do shows me that Black folks have a history of making sure we do what we need to do to make sure our folks get the care they want, need, and deserve.
Mars Earle (they/he) is the director of the Carolina Abortion Fund (CAF). Once a caller, Mars now supports CAF in stitching together a network of financial and practical support for North Carolinian abortion access.
Name one or more African American reproductive justice activists you want to celebrate.
I want to uplift Anarcha, Betsey, and Lucy. Three named enslaved Black women whose bodies Marion J Sims, the so-called “father of modern gynecology,” experimented on and exploited. Three Black mothers whose stories they tried to erase, but we will never forget.
Crystal Pruitt currently serves as Director of Constituent Relations and Community Outreach for New Jersey Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (LD-16). She is on the executive boards of several organizations including New Leaders Council – New Jersey, New Jersey Abortion Access Fund, and the JFK Democratic Club of Franklin Township.
A graduate of North Carolina State University (Bachelors of Science, Criminology – 2007) and John Jay College of Criminal Justice (Master of Arts, Forensic Psychology – 2009; Master of Arts, Forensic Mental Health Counseling – 2014), she has worked for the Forensic Intensive Recovery Program for the First Judicial District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services, Bronx TASC Mental Health Court Diversion Program, Bo Robinson Assessment and Treatment and Amplify Incorporated. Ms. Pruitt has a strong commitment to social justice, behavioral health, and criminal justice issues, that continues to inform both her personal and professional lives.
Everyone is affected in a country impacted by racism and economic inequality. What is one way that you can personally commit (or have already committed) to the liberation of Black people and our collective liberation?
I had a period in my life where I was unsure what I wanted to do, I had no idea where I wanted to be or who I wanted to become anymore. I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to step back and give myself time to recenter. I did that by trying to recall and focus on my values, and what I realized was that the ideals of justice, equality, and humanity were important to me and whatever I did moving forward would have to embody those values.
At first, I focused on how I could fight for justice, equality, and the humanity of others. So I threw myself into anything I could find, any club, or FB group, or organization I could find. If it was social justice, I wanted to be involved. However, it didn’t feel right. I had to do more, so I turned my gaze inward to my own justice, equality, and humanity, and realized that it was not just others I needed to protect and lift up, it was also myself. As a black woman, I have been marginalized from birth, and I needed to sit in that and realized that while I wanted to fight for others, and I also needed to fight for myself. How could I fight? How could I use myself not only as a warrior, but a weapon for change?
Ultimately, I found my commitment to the liberation of Black People and our collective liberation in state and local politics, by standing in spaces of power built on white supremacy and patriarchy. By disrupting the institution with my very presence and using my access to advocate and fight for the justice, equality, and humanity we all deserve.