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Being a Young Black Woman in the Reproductive Justice Movement

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September 14, 2012

I must’ve been in 4th grade when I received my first exposure to “sex education.”  This came in the form of my class touring the male and female restrooms and receiving a rudimentary lesson on the vagina and the penis, complete with textbook graphics. Ever since then I was hooked.

I was the little girl lecturing her friends on the correct way to use feminine hygiene products and explaining exactly what sexually transmitted diseases are. As a teen I was in an organization, Mother Wit, and I spread comprehensive sexual education, health and awareness to other young people of many backgrounds and from walks of life very similar to my own.  I’ve grown up having to battle the stereotypes of being a woman of color which everyone made me feel like was the worst thing that ever happened to me; a woman, who was destined to a life of being ignored, and a first generation American with a family fighting to establish themselves as individuals and as Americans in this new country while still maintaining our culture. When you combine the three you get someone that society looks down upon and tries to forget even exists. Except, when conveniently they need someone to be the face of a cause that must be saved.

The media tends to portray black women as uneducated and class-less. A young woman of color in college is an anomaly. I guess that’s me. I’m currently a health sciences pre-clinical major, a women studies minor, and I eat, sleep, and breathe reproductive health and justice. I believe that everyone should have the right to access, education, and support.

Sex is not a taboo thing, and it should be able to be discussed in an environment that is open and honest. I stand tall and proud because I believe EVERYONE should have comprehensive education and not only have the right, but access to exercise that right. I stand because I believe Vagina is not a hush word and saying vagina on television should be the norm. I want to scream that my vagina is awesome and I’m DAMN proud of it!

I stand as a living contradiction to the stereotypes that surround me and consume my culture. I believe that people are people regardless of who they love, how they love, and if or how they identify. I am an advocate, a daughter, a friend, and an individual that wants the ability to exercise her rights and have a voice. I’ve had friends that have been shafted by the system, not having access to necessary medications, and I have friends that have benefitted from having access to abortion and contraception.

Just last week in school I was in a discussion, and used the term “reproductive agency” to describe a particular girl obtaining a necessary method of contraception. Another individual proclaimed reproductive agency sounded like the girl in the scenario was running a whore house…

Really???

This is why I take a stand. Because before we change the world we first have to change the minds of those around us, the discussion, and the dialogue. I stand operating in a system that many people don’t even realize exists, and revolutionizing how I play my role in it. I stand so discussions can go on without snide remarks and comments or without looks of disdain and judgmental stares. I stand because this is a recanting of my beginning, an adventure I’m undergoing in my present and a journey to my future. This is nowhere near the end.  I’m a young, Black and Jamaican woman, and THIS is why I stand for reproductive justice!

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4 Responses to “Being a Young Black Woman in the Reproductive Justice Movement”

  1. Sarah

    It's a pain to navigate our identities in these spaces, isn't it? But maybe at the end of the day, that makes it all the more necessary. We're in this weird spot where we're able to make healthcare more accessible to people of color. This makes our voices all the more important.

    Oh, and shoutout to first generation Americans. 🙂

  2. Trecia

    I am so proud of you for standing for what you believe in. Cognitive Behavior theorist believe that people have the ability to change their circumstances when they first change the way they think and the way they behave. Continue to help others to change by teaching them how to change their thought process. I am proud to be your big sister and a woman of color. #Proud Black Jamaican #