Whatever you do, don't do this. And try some self-education if this is you in the picture.
Inexperienced blogger in the land of blogs warning: shambled, somewhat unplanned thoughts lay ahead.
After discovering, Ways to Face Race at Thanksgiving -- and Not Choke, by Terry Keleher, I decided to insert our needs at KHJN that certainly include challenging racist structures and in addition, addressing inequalities that impair freedom in our reproductive lives. The goal here is to highlight Terry's potent list and show that it can be applied to many difficult conversations in the social justice movement, like reproductive rights, health, justice! That sounds like dinner conversation, yeah? I'm going to stop using that jargon now before I lose my audience. Here we go.
1. Talking Turkey
“Talking turkey” means “talking plainly about a difficult or awkward subject.” Instead of just being reactive, look for softer points of entry. Start with a question. Use plain language. Set the frame and tone you want. Create an opening for some constructive dialogue. For example, “Did you see that video of the police cracking down on the non-violent student protesters?”
On health: Make it personal. Personal stories really hit home when talking with the ones you love already so use it leverage meaningful, difficult conversations. The 1 in 3 Campaign have shown that it’s possible to use story-telling as a powerful, provocative way of shifting the cultural stigma around abortion. Try it while your family and friends are available in truckloads!
2. Go easy on the stuffing
It’s OK to debate, but keep it constructive and don’t personalize things. Use “I” statements (about your own experiences and perspectives) rather than “You” statements (which sound accusatory). Focus on actions and impacts (which are concrete and knowable) rather than attitudes and intentions.
On rights: This is where you should have your Guttmacher Institute state-based fact sheet hidden in your hands under the table (preferably, in reference cards if you didn't make it on the Quick Recall team in middle school.) But, I digress. Intentions are never helpful to debate. What did your mother always say? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Fortunately for non-research buffs, social attitudes about sexism, homophobia, socioeconomic status, and the like, can be easily digested on any mainstream news source. I mean it, click on the links, I made it so easy to find!
3. Take a roll with the mashed potatoes
When the rabid right-winger just can’t resist his racist rant, roll with it. You don’t have to take the bait. Talk on your own terms—when, how, and with whom you want. Not everything and everyone is worth your time.
On self-care: Sometimes, people (even family) will say the most ridiculous, ball-faced lies, and yes, get away with it, because you cannot combat every cruel piece of misinformed garbage that a person with bigoted thoughts will inflict. What you can do is decide how to use your mental energy and time (because it is precious). After a lengthy, challenging dialogue, do what it is that rocks your jollies -- be it wine, wine, some more wine, swinging on your Nana’s porch swing, seconds on dessert even though you told yourself not to, or holing up in the bathroom to scour Tumblr, go do it.
4. Go for the gravy
Sometimes the gravy makes the meal; instead of the typical race talk focused on blaming and shaming,can you appeal to shared values such as inclusion, equity, dignity, unity and love? Can you lift energy around a vision of racial, gender and economic justice for everyone?
On justice: This is where communities can connect across the aisle. For example, your cousin is the Chair of the Young Republicans and you’re both women and college-educated. Commonalities? Talk about how you got there. Did you live in middle-class neighborhoods, which kept your schools well-funded? Were you raised in a home where dictionaries, food, and vacations were abundant? Okay, that's okay. Don't feel disrespected because we're talking privilege. Reach for depth in your empathy compartment and find out why everyone does not have all their needs met all the time.
Your cousin didn't get there by their boot-straps. Keep your privilege in check and reflect with honest questions to allow these narratives to inspire visions of a future where everyone has an abundance of dictionaries, food, and vacations.
5. Keep your eye on the pies
The point of talking about race at the Thanksgiving table isn't actually to ruffle feathers. The real point is to get others to see, act and think differently.
On doing something: Here at Kentucky Health Justice Network, we strive to transform communities through justice and freedom in our reproductive lives. That’s going to take incremental work on us all. Do one thing -- share a story about some radical birth doulas, give someone space to talk about their life growing up in poverty without the awkward cringe of pity, donate to your local abortion fund, talk to your freaking neighbors, and don’t give up.
If I've learned anything at all in this life not lived long enough, it’s that this world is worth taking time to shape.
If after reading this blog, you think you can do a finer job, fill out the form below because we need bloggers!
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH, 2013
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Meanwhile, Marissa Alexander, who was convicted by a jury to 20 years in prison for shooting her gun to scare away her attacker, gets a new trial! What does this have to do with reproductive justice? Simply because she was a woman defending herself from her estranged husband AND it got nearly zero media coverage because she is a black woman. The jury took less than 12 minutes to decide she was guilty. What does that appear to mean? That because she is a black woman she is guilty, automatically. More about the story below.
By Sam Fullwood III October 1, 2013 Center for American Progress
A dollop of promisingly good news came out of Florida last week. An appellate court wiped away a jury decision that convicted Marissa Alexander—who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband—and ordered a new trial. For the moment, Alexander remains behind bars, pending a separate hearing to determine whether she can receive bail while she awaits her new trial.
As incredible as this story seemed when it occurred in 2010, it was eclipsed in the media headlines by an eerily similar story last year, also out of Florida. Who could forget all the public attention larded upon George Zimmerman, the self-appointed vigilante who felt justified to kill Trayvon Martin because of Florida’s odious Stand Your Ground law and was acquitted of murder charges?
Zimmerman’s trial and acquittal in that case sparked an ongoing national argument—debate is too gentle a description—over justice in in the Sunshine State, the wisdom of Stand Your Ground laws, and general racial and gender disparities in the criminal justice system.
Alexander, 33, argued before a Florida jury that the Stand Your Ground law should apply in her case and prevent her from serving time for firing a weapon in self-defense. She was unsuccessful.
Specifically, Alexander testified that within days of giving birth to their son, her then-estranged husband, Rico Gray Sr., attacked her in the bathroom of their home. Gray was under a court’s restraining order to stay away from Alexander. She fought him off and eventually escaped to a garage where she grabbed a gun. She said she fired a shot into the ceiling to scare him off, arguing that “it was the lesser of two evils” compared to shooting and killing him.
Alexander will get a new day in court, following a decision written by Judge Robert Benton to grant her a new trial. The appellate court ruled that instructions to the jury in the previous trial unfairly required Alexander to prove that she was acting in self-defense. But Benton’s ruling upheld the trial judge’s decision to disallow Alexander from using the Stand Your Ground law as a defense in her trial.
Compare and contrast the fine details of the two cases: Alexander had no prior criminal record, unlike Zimmerman, who had been arrested for battery of a police officer and a restraining order for domestic abuse. He was questioned and released after shooting Martin and was only arrested after an outcry on social media. Worse, he actually shot and killed an unarmed teenager. Nobody died as a result of Alexander’s actions. Yet Zimmerman, who felt empowered by Stand Your Ground, killed a defenseless teenager and walks around proud and free.
While a number of social activists rushed to defend Alexander, including leaders of the NAACP and some in Congress, Alexander’s case hasn’t drawn nearly the national outrage that it deserves. Could it be because Alexander is a black woman?
Rita Smith, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence thinks so, telling Kirsten Powers of The Daily Beast that “Most battered women who kill in self-defense end up in prison. There is a well-documented bias against women [in these cases].”
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, who supervised the prosecution of Alexander and oversaw the Zimmerman case, isn’t buying that argument in these Florida cases. She told The Washington Post the Alexander and Zimmerman trials had “zero parallels.” She argued that Alexander didn’t fear for her life when she aimed her gun at her husband and his two sons, but rather her shot missed her husband, and the ricocheted bullet struck the ceiling.
Moreover, she attacked Alexander’s supporters as know-nothings with text-messaging skills. “I think social media is going to be the destruction of this country,” Corey said in an interview. “How dare people just repeat something without checking [whether] it’s true.”
The jury apparently agreed with Corey, deliberating for 12 minutes and convicting the mother of three of aggravated assault. Under Florida’s 10-20-life law, anyone who shows a gun in the commission of some felonies is sentenced to an automatic 10 years in prison. Anyone who fires the gun gets a mandated 20 years, and if someone is shot or wounded, the penalty is an automatic 25 years-to-life sentence.
That’s just outrageous. It’s time for such arbitrary mandatory sentencing that ignores or discounts individual circumstances to end. Hopefully, Alexander’s refreshed case will set her free and bring about greatly needed criminal justice reforms.
Tomorrow, KHJN will be presenting the right not to parent tenet of reproductive justice at a Medicaid Expansion education training in Berea, KY at the public library, 6 pm!
The answer is much deeper than one can blog about. On the short side, it ain't covered by Medicaid, so it ain't talked about. So, that's where we are stepping in, gratefully, to Kentucky Voices for Health for lending us a platform.
What's important about an opportunity to talk in a mainstream circle about ending an unintended pregnancy is that we can undo the abortion stigma with evidence. For instance, this graphic shows that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion. Cultural stigma found on blogs, statuses, and websites dedicated to restricting abortion tells us that some people will be thinking that NO ONE will need this information because women in KY don't get abortions. It simply isn't true. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 4,430 women obtained abortions in KY in 2008. With the rise of Medicaid expansion, women/people need to be clear about this fact: Medicaid will not pay for it except life endangerment, rape, or incest apply. Who will?
If you are on Medicaid or planning to enroll, the likelihood of you having the financial means to afford an abortion, which ranges from $500-$1200, usually on short notice, is pretty slim. And this is why Kentucky Support Network exists -- to lift the social, economic, and geographic barriers low-income individuals face when choosing to end a pregnancy. KSN will refer information on adoption or pregnancy, too, but, since we are talking about Medicaid and abortion services, it needs to be said with no apologies.
Meanwhile, I made some kick-ass handouts to give away at the presentation and when we stop at Eastern Kentucky University's campus to hopefully recruit some volunteer educators and base supporters! If you are down with reproductive justice, support our work to give RJ workshops, hangouts, and support policies that uphold the reproductive justice framework.
"Fifty years after the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom things are better, but there is still room for improvement," says one Okie about a time in our history where we are still grappling with systemic racism.
What is one thing you are doing to undo racist values, stereotypes, language, or whatever way you are undoing it, share with us?
Read their blog here!
I don’t often like to focus on the social construct of race. It gets me hot under the collar most times and, let’s face it, in Oklahoma I’m surrounded!- Mel from OK4RJ
A few volunteers from Kentucky Support Network and Every Saturday morning traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to rally around the last clinic in Mississippi. Check our their story at our friends's blog at Every Saturday Morning -- the folks at ESM relentlessly show up at the abortion clinic in Louisville to offer accompaniment into the building; past the sea of protestors chanting and sometimes chasing, but that really depends on the mood they are in.
Hi friends of KHJN and those just stopping by to check us out!
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Friends of KHJN.