A report-back from Organizer Hailey Broughton-Jones
“Justice is not a noun, justice is a verb.” – Activist and Politician, Stacey Abrams, LTAS 2019 Keynote Speaker
In October, I had the pleasure of attending Sister Song’s Let’s Talk About Sex Reproductive Justice Conference in Atlanta, GA. Let’s Talk About Sex (LTAS) is the largest gathering in the country of womxn of color who are organizing around reproductive health, rights, and justice issues (1).
The conference was a call-to-action centered around accountability, transcendence, and liberation. During the opening plenary, activists invited attendees to reflect on what accountability looks like in practice. They envisioned accountability as an aspiration, a promise to ourselves and each out. The panelists defined accountability as a day-to-day practice that makes us commit to wading in the deep water with others and owning our impact. The opening ceremony and plenary provided me with an anchoring and connection to other attendees that I have not experienced at other conferences.
Over the course of two days, there were over 75 sessions – selecting which workshops to attend was a bit difficult! One workshop I attended was led by Chican@ and Mexican@ midwives discussing how they are organizing along both sides of the US-Mexico border to dismantle obstetric violence (Luna Tierra) (2). Other workshops included a panel on best practices for how our organizations can live the values we promote and a presentation on how a Reproductive Justice (RJ) lens can be used to strengthen the security and safety of abortion care providers.
Midway through the conference, we hosted a Network gathering where Network members and colleagues were able to connect and catch up after a marathon of conferences. The social gathering was a great time to hear updates from Network members organizing and working in Washington, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
As an Organizer, often working within the power systems of medical institutions and health care, attending LTAS helped me re-imagine how collective power can be built and reflect on my own practice of accountability. Some questions that I am left with include: What does it look like to own the limitations of the reproductive health field while learning from RJ leaders and incorporating RJ principles in our movement of organizing, play, and work?
(1) A note about language: In this context, I am using the term “womxn” as a gender-expansive term that is inclusive of cisgender women, genderqueer, and non-binary folks.
(2) I am using the gender-expansive language of the presenters who used “Chican@” and “Mexican@” to describe the communities and midwives they work with.