Em-URGE-ing Voices

Posts Categorized: Uncategorized

Finding Reproductive Justice: “No Más Bebés” & The Limitations Of “Pro-Choice”

I’m proud to be a Latina, but I wasn’t always. Growing up in a predominantly white community in Georgia, my family and I were often targets of incredibly ignorant and hurtful microaggressions. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has made  assumptions about how my parents arrived to the United States, or where I’m really from. Even as a kid, I was hyper-aware of how different I looked from my white peers and begged my parents to speak to me in English in front of my friends.  The microaggressions I experienced as a child, questioning my belonging and citizenship, were not just incidents of routine childhood teasing, but were a part of a larger system of xenophobia. These seemingly innocuous and juvenile expressions of contempt can better be understood… Read more »

To be young, houseless, and pregnant

When Beyoncé wrote “America Has a Problem,” she was likely talking about many things in this country, from economic inequality to the frequency of mass shootings. But perhaps one of the U.S.’ most alarming problems is its sustained housing crisis. Black and brown maternal health is one of the many reproductive justice issues that first sparked my interest in the field. After seeing this viral TikTok video in which houseless, pregnant, teen couple Jimena and Gabriel discuss their experience while expecting, I became curious as to how the condition of houselessness could affect the health of her baby and herself as a new mom.  Over half a million Americans experience homelessness every single year, though it is very difficult to accurately quantify this population. Houselessness is defined as the state… Read more »

HIV Stigma and Queerphobia in Pop Culture and Public Health 

Disclaimer: Mentions of HIV Stigma, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma, and healthcare discrimination  As I entered adulthood, I began having more access and space to talk about sex. Being raised in a household where sexual health was not discussed, and there were anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes, talking about sex and expressing curiosities about dating were new to me. One thing I noticed from conversations I had with my peers about sex (many of whom identified as cis-straight Black women), was that there was frequent speculation about other people’s sexual identities. I remember being asked a couple of times if I would engage romantically with a bisexual guy. At the time, I didn’t understand these types of questions because I, too, was queer. I couldn’t fathom why it would be my concern if I dated other… Read more »

Who Taught You, You Weren’t Worthy of Joy? Who Taught You, You Weren’t Deserving of Pleasure?

I’d like to begin this essay with a couple questions. Who is deserving of pleasure, and who has the right to joy? How can we begin to obtain this pleasure and joy? And what happens when we center our actions, activism, and resistance around this pleasure and joy? Community Organizers and the activists who center our lives around this work realize that our efforts typically stem from moments of witnessing injustices and finding an outlet to let us combat our pain for the sake of our communities and ourselves. So, what does this have to do with Joy and Pleasure and more importantly what does this have to do with Reproductive Justice? This semester I had the privilege of taking two courses, Reproductive Justice: No Single-Issue Struggle and Foundations in… Read more »

When it’s “Errbody Business”: Bbymutha’s Sex-Positivity 

Disclaimer: References to sexually explicit content and imagery.  One of my favorite rappers is Chattanooga native Bbymutha. Bbymutha transforms the dimensions of Black queerness, motherhood, and womanhood in her music through her skillful lyricism that seeks to reclaim sexuality, pleasure, and agency. I was particularly drawn to Bbymutha for being unapologetically Black and Queer and for the empowering messages behind her songs, most notably, “Rules.” In this well-rounded song, Bbymutha details the lessons she’s learned and offers advice on dealing with the sexual politics of dating men. Sexual politics refers to the underlying rules for how one should engage sexually and romantically with others that may be influenced by patriarchy.  Bbymutha provides a set of guidelines for being involved romantically and sexually with men in a way that is intentional… Read more »

Towards “Good” Sex: Concepts from Music and Pop Culture 

Disclaimer: This blog includes references to sex, genitalia, and implicit erotic and nude imagery. For the purposes of this blog, the context of “sex” will only encompass sexual experiences outside of sexual violence.  In her hit single “Tragic” from the album Heaux Tales, Jazmine Sullivan details an unsatisfying sexual experience with a casual sex partner. Throughout the song, Sullivan discusses her sexual desires and expectations that were not prioritized in the encounter with the guy. Repurposing an audio clip of Representative Maxine Waters’s response to former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s during a congressional hearing, repeating the phrase “reclaiming my time,” listeners are introduced to the idea of power and agency within sexual partnerships. Over captivating lyrics, Sullivan adds to Black popular culture discourse about the concept of “bad sex.” In heteronormative… Read more »

Femininity Left Across the Atlantic

There is a special kind of irony that lies among the intentional misgendering, masculinization, clocking, and ultimately TERF-like thinking out of the mouths and minds of cisgendered Black women towards their trans Black sisters. So after finding out that Alice Walker, the Alice Walker author of the very Black and very Queer “the Color Purple” and foundational thinker and writer on Black feminisms and Black literary works was a TERF, having publicly defended author JK Rowling for her transphobic comments and beliefs, it left a lingering bitterness in my mouth, due to the irony that lies within the history of Black gender formation and misogynoir. Femininity Left Across the Atlantic The complicated relationship between Black folks and understandings of gender lie within the origins of slavery and white supremacy. When… Read more »

My Introduction to Pleasure and Sexual Liberation 

Disclaimer: This blog includes references to sex and implicit erotic and nude imagery  As I raced home from school, I immediately turned on Music Choice, a TV channel that aired popular music videos. I heard Slim Thug’s voice over a silhouette of Beyoncé doing body waves against silk, pink backgrounds. Everything was pink—pink wigs, pink suits, pink leather, pink eye shadow, and pink lip gloss. I remember mimicking Beyoncé’s choreography in the video and trying to keep up with the flexible, agile, and sensual movements of the dancers while following along to the lyrics, “dip it, pop it, twerk it.”   A few phrases that repeatedly stuck to me were “check on me tonight,” “boy, I know you want it,” and “lookin’ like you like what you see.” I did not know… Read more »

Doulas Holding it Down in H-Town

Doulas are non-clinical support people offering physical, emotional, and informational assistance to birthing people and their families. We have been foundational to birthing, reproductive justice movements, and society as a whole since the beginning of time. The public has become more familiar with doula care in recent years, a large part due to the exponential growth as a byproduct of coronavirus lockdowns and the way that affected the birthing landscape. More people than ever sought out doulas, midwives, and other birth work professionals to help support them when hospitals were inaccessible, unsafe, or incredibly restrictive. Houston is home to a rich and budding doula community. Texas’ worsening maternal mortality rates, especially in Harris County, is indicative of a great need for further support. However, we often hear about how much… Read more »

Head In The Clouds About

It’s not you. Insurance was hard for me too. It can be so unclear and confusing, especially when you need life-saving care. After my first surgery, I realized how important it was for folx within marginalized communities to have access to medical literacy to advocate and protect themselves navigating the healthcare system. This way we can all avoid the frustration and despair of canceled procedures, denial of services, or discrimination due to the absence of education, and ableist policies. Even though it’s been an entire year since my procedure, I can still feel the headache of trying to register for insurance and then keep it active long enough to undergo a surgery I had been waiting for over two years for. Long story short, on top of all the preparation…