by Marie-Antoinette Sintim, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at UNC Chapel Hill
I’ve been learning about Reproductive Justice for a while and I’ve learned a lot. You know when you feel confident about something that you forget that there’re still a million things to know? Well, November 12, 2017, was that day for me. Kate, my badass feminist friend, had worked really hard for there to be a Reproductive Justice training on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, and as the Campus Leader at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, I worked with her to get SisterSong to come and conduct this training. It had been advertised not just to the UNC community, but to nearby communities, as well. We had pizza and cookies! I was very excited (I believe in food always).
Would we have students? Faculty? Neighbors? A random protestor? Luckily for us, the people that showed up were students, friends, and neighbors who were eager to learn about reproductive Justice.
Apart from a great crowd, Ash of SisterSong expanded the narrative of Reproductive Justice, choosing not to focus on just cisgender white women, but on trans people, non- binary people, and People of Color. Attendees shared stories about their reproductive lives, in all forms. The more I do this work, the more I am reminded that for many people these are stories that are hard to tell no matter how many times they are shared. And that to be trusted with such a story is a privilege and should be respected. There are never enough spaces to tell those things that we are afraid to utter ,but we had that space during this training (and because of the sacredness I won’t share other people’s stories here, but I’m sure we all have our stories or know those of our loved ones).
While teaching us about the Reproductive Justice framework, Ash allowed for questions, no matter how uncomfortable. I learned that I won’t always be prepared for uncomfortable questions! In my discomfort, I decided not to lead with my exasperation and anger with attendees who didn’t understand the importance of Reproductive Justice…maybe today I would lead with some compassion instead. I started talking to myself like you do before you’re about to say something you don’t quite know how to say and told myself: “There are things that these people don’t know about Reproductive Justice and I don’t know everything, either, and I’m not right always and don’t always use the right language or phrase everything correctly. I’m still learning, too.” The mere fact that these folks had come to a teach in about Reproductive Justice meant something!
So, today I learned something new and so did they!