Rallies to support reproductive justice and the right to abortion were held were held in several U.S. cities on December 1. Monica Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, gave a rousing talk at the rally in Washington, D.C., to cheers. Below are excerpts from her talk. (Access video at tinyurl.com/2p95vwch.)
We must fight for justice! For freedom! We send love to the Abortion Freedom Fighters in Mississippi today. We’re here because of their giving for their community. We applaud every storyteller today; their bravery is powerful and revolutionary.
This fight for abortion justice is a fight against white supremacy. There is nothing more “American” than Black folks and folks of color having to fight to survive in this damned country. These laws impact our communities, Black folks, Indigenous folks, folks of color, in such a detrimental way. We must move our leadership to the front now to ensure that our communities, voices and experiences are heard and seen. We must continue this every day until liberation is ours.
Our bodily autonomy is central to our liberation. If our freedom to make decisions about our own health and bodies are denied, we as a people are not fully liberated. I want to see liberation in my lifetime. Reproductive Justice has taught me that it is our human right to have children in the ways we want, to prevent or end pregnancies without shame and in dignity, to parent our children in healthy and safe environments, to have the bodily autonomy that is ours. That is liberation.
White supremacy underlies abortion bans
Anti-abortion laws are not “pro-life.” I want to snatch that word from these people holding onto “pro-life.” They are not pro-life. They are rooted in white supremacy and are downright unjust. States that implement and uphold inherently unjust laws that disproportionately target Black folks and folks of color are upholding a system that shields white supremacy.
Some lawmakers in Mississippi and other states argue that states should be able to decide. States’ rights in the South is a longstanding argument upheld by white supremacists. They haven’t come up with anything new. They keep writing the same game expecting the same results. But we are here today to give them different results!
Courts that codify unjust laws that disproportionately target us are in a system that we no longer give any credit to. That is going to end today, because we are going to continue to do what we need to do until that is gone.
Mississippi is the third Blackest state in the country, but the lawmaking body doesn’t even come close to reflecting that. Only 27% of state legislators are Black, and 17% identify as women. That’s not democracy; it’s patriarchal white supremacy. Representation matters. When our voices are not at the table, our rights and autonomy are on the chopping block.
Focus on liberation!
We show what Black-centered leadership and folks-of-color-centered leadership look like. We are focused on winning, on liberation. We will keep taking care of each other, building our collective power, voting, holding our vision for freedom in our hearts, telling our stories and changing the narrative and the culture. That is what it will take to move from a defensive to offensive position. When we get to the offensive position, our opposition better get ready. We are not stopping once we get the ball!
When we get that ball, things are going to change. Lives will change. Then liberation is ours. We are standing on the shoulders of giants who did this before us. We are standing together collectively, building the power that will change the very nature of this country. It will take all of us connected to do that.
We must keep our joy and love at the center. They cannot take our joy, love or the things that are inherently ours. We have to use them as our power to move us to the position that we want to be in. Are you ready to win? Ready for liberation in our lifetime? Let’s keep doing what we are doing.