Happy 20th anniversary, SisterSong!
A few of us from the Feminist Campus team attended SisterSong’s Let’s Talk About Sex Conference in New Orleans two weeks ago, where we heard from incredible speakers and attended workshops you won’t find anywhere else.
At Advocates for Youth’s The Future is Young and Sexy day-long pre-conference, we participated in an exercise to examine our privileges and challenges within different aspects of our own identities to see what we were bringing to the space. In another session, called Reproductive Justice 101, we wrote out our own Reproductive Rights Bill of Rights in groups and learned about the Reproductive Rights Building Blocks. We wrapped up the day by learning how to center young folks and marginalized groups in organizing work and evaluated some great examples of organizations already doing this, including Advocates for Youth, Black Youth Project, and United We Dream.
During the rest of the conference we heard from speakers including Loretta Ross, SisterSong’s founder, as well as Dr. Willie Parker, Raquel Willis, and Marissa Alexander and so many more incredible activists committed to reproductive justice work. Workshops and speakers provided education on topics like bodily autonomy, trusting Black women, prison abolition, queering reproductive justice, and environmental justice. There were so many wonderful workshops that it was difficult to choose which to go to! Some of the workshops we attended included:
- Mic Check! The Reproductive Expression of Black Female Rappers
- Erotic Pregnancy and Parenting
- The Women that Care Forgot: New Orleans, Sex Workers, and the Policies (and Practices) That Leave Them Behind
- Hood Girl Healing: A Conversation
- Fabulous and Thriving: Fatness and Sexuality in the Land of Fatphobia
Our ideas of diversity and inclusion were challenged in Moving Beyond Hiring People of Color: Centering Anti-Oppression in White-Dominated Spaces and in Ethical Storytelling for Advocacy and Culture Shift we discussed how to effectively share abortion stories and the importance of paying storytellers for their contributions.
Since its inception, SisterSong has prioritized Black women, Native American/Indigenous women, Latinx women, and Asian American/Pacific Islander women as decision-makers within the organization, and continues to advocate consistently for the needs of communities that have traditionally been left out of mainstream reproductive health and rights advocacy work. One Indigenous rights activist at the conference even noted that SisterSong was the only reproductive justice organization to release a statement in solidarity with activists at Standing Rock because it realized that #NoDAPL is a reproductive justice issue.
Black women and femmes have been at the forefront of reproductive rights, health, and justice movements, and Black queer and trans folk have been leading resistance efforts for Black lives across the country (and the globe) for decades. There is no movement without them. Gloria Steinem even recently acknowledged that “Black women taught her feminism.” Centering the voices and experiences of Black women and femmes in advocacy work is critical to true solidarity work, and SisterSong’s work has been instrumental in the reproductive justice movement for 20 years now.
We would like to thank SisterSong for an amazing conference and extend our congratulations on 20 years of amazing work! We look forward to seeing what’s to come over the next 20 years.