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Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month: Rosa Alicia Clemente

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“We must fight for our reproductive rights and our human rights now more than ever before. Too many women in history fought for us to have the ability to have control of what we do with our own bodies. This is not just a fight for women we need men to also stand with us and fight with us. We won’t go back to the old days and we will fight for the future that ensures us full freedom.”

Rosa Clemente 

Rosa Clemente is a name you will not forget. A leading scholar on Afro-Latinx identity, she has led the charge on various social justice movements for many years. In 2001, she served as a youth representative at the first-ever United Nations World Conference against Xenophobia, Racism, and Related Intolerance. A fearless leader, Clemente has ignited public discourse on sexism within hip-hop, media justice, and racism. In 2003, she organized the first National Hip-Hop Political Convention, attended by over 3,000 activists. In 2008, grounded in the principles of democracy, social justice, ecological wisdom, and economic sustainability, Rosa Clemente ran for the Green Party Vice-Presidency. She and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney were the first women of color to ever run together for the US presidency and vice-presidency.

Clemente’s scholarship focuses on the relationship between Black and Latinx cultures within contemporary media, healthcare, and politics. As a scholar-activist, her organizing is critically informed by her academic work. Rosa Clemente has been a board member of the National Priorities Project, Black Lives Matter, and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. She is also the president and co-founder of Know Thy Self Productions, which facilitates community activism tours and consults on a wide range of social justice issues. Her on-the-ground recovery work, in post-disaster zones where minorities are disproportionately affected, has been cited by national media. In 2017, after Hurricane Maria left a path of destruction in Puerto Rico, Clemente founded the Afro-Latinx centered media collective, PR on the Map to document the injustices Puerto Rican American citizens face in the US colonial territory. Her reports in Puerto Rico of a negligible federal response, contamination of water, mothers who are unable to lactate due to dehydration, and infant malnutrition due to food shortages were broadcasted across the globe. Currently, Rosa Clemente is a Ph.D. candidate at the W.E.B. DuBois Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Clemente’s quote highlights how defending the reproductive rights of everyone is critical to achieving “full freedom.” Anti-immigrant policies, in addition to social-economic and racial disparities, are a constant threat to accessible reproductive health care. Only ten states and the District of Columbia offer any kind of health benefits to undocumented immigrants through state-funded programs. In 2015, 18% of immigrants were uninsured. Moreover, in 2015, 27% of noncitizen immigrant women of reproductive age were uninsured. [1] Access to comprehensive reproductive health care is a human right – and without this access full freedom cannot be obtained.

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