About the SisterSong Birth Justice Care Fund:
“Prior to the global spread of COVID-19, pregnant, birthing and postpartum Black people and people of color were already struggling within a health care system rife with bias and negligence. The pandemic crisis has only exacerbated the needs of Black and POC childbearing folks and their families, whether they are currently pregnant, close to delivery or newly postpartum.
In response, the SisterSong Birth Justice Team is expanding beyond its normal programming to also provide financial support exclusively to Black and other people of color, especially Queer and Trans folks in need of support around their pregnancy, birth and postpartum needs.” (from SisterSong’s website)
Why Asians 4 Black Births?
It has been amazing to see how much Asian American community has mobilized around the Movement for Black Lives. Not only has this been an important reminder that we have a responsibility as Asian Americans to fight for Black Liberation, it has also given our communities (who historically have experienced disparate solidarity across the API diaspora) a tether to one another through how we show up during this time of revolution.
We don’t want this moment to pass, we don’t want this momentum to pause, and we don’t want our mobilization to cease. Part of our work is educating ourselves on how to be in comradeship and meaningful community with those who are already doing the work. The Reproductive Justice movement has been doing the work of Black Liberation for decades through centering the work of self-determined family creation.
Why is Black Liberation an Asian American issue?
The term “Asian American” was created in 1968 by activists radicalized by the Black Power movement. Prior to this, people of the API diaspora were still referred to as “oriental” and had no shared political voice. “Asian American” was a way for migrants of API ancestry to consolidate their political power while also engaging and intersecting with the numerous other human rights movements of the era.
Today this radical political identity has been eclipsed by the myth of the model minority, a political creation elevating Asian-Americans who had achieved socio-economic status in order to 1) create racial separation rooted in anti-Blackness, 2) self-advertise the “by your bootstraps” American Dream, and 3) render complicit the Asian American population to service the vehicle of white supremacy.
Thus, in order for us to reclaim our identity away from the narrative crafted for us by white supremacy, we must remember who we are in solidarity with. We must start by understanding that our liberation is bound together, and any efforts to use Asian Americans as a “wedge” to create rifts with Black and brown communities of color do nothing more than advance white supremacy and anti-Blackness.
Lastly, we must always remember that we are migrants. And when we came across that ocean we migrated to stolen indigenous land built upon violence against Black people.
What is Reproductive Justice?
Indigenous women, women of color, and TGNC people have always fought for Reproductive Justice (RJ), but the term was invented in 1994 by a group of Black women and in 1997 SisterSong was created to amplify the voice of this movement onto a national scale. Reproductive Justice is defined as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. It is a movement that combines reproductive rights with social justice.
Reproductive Justice is about access, not choice because there is no choice when there is no access. It also does not solely focus on abortion as women of color and other marginalized folks often have difficulty accessing: contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, alternative birth options, adequate prenatal and pregnancy care, domestic violence assistance, adequate wages to support our families, safe homes, safety from state violence and mass incarceration, and so much more.
Therefore the work is about analyzing power systems, addressing intersecting oppressions (because marginalized womxn often face multiple oppressions and can only win freedom by addressing how they impact one another), centering the most marginalized (because our society will not be free until the most vulnerable people are able to access the resources to live self-determined lives without fear, discrimination or retaliation), and joining together across issues and identities. (Information consolidated from SisterSong’s website)
How does Reproductive Justice apply to us as Asian Americans?
Reproductive Justice intersects uniquely with Asian Americans as many of our community’s reproductive freedom exists at the intersections of battling xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, fear of undocumentation and deportation while fighting for migrant rights, massage parlor and sex worker rights, and much more.
Historically, reproductive oppression is a tactic that has been used against many of our cultures of origin that have fought back against long histories of colonialism, colorism, and imperialism. It is important for us to understand how this history of reproductive oppression is inextricably linked with ableism, racism, patriarchy, and cissexism.
Collectivism, solidarity, and community power has been at the core of our repair and restoration work but a lot of that history has been stolen from us so we can serve and advance white supremacy. Therefore, the only way to eradicate it is to advocate, learn, teach, and show up together to invest in accountable community.
Reproductive Justice fundamentally starts with a human rights framework and honors the full gamut of oppressions that hinder reproductive freedom for all communities. As a group of racialized communities, Asian Americans have and will continue to directly benefit from the labor of Reproductive Justice activists -- whether they are fighting for healthy and safe neighborhoods, safety and access for immigrants, more accessible, affordable, and culturally responsive health care services, or anything in between. Reproductive Justice advocacy has fought for our rights as Asian Americans, even if you do not know it.
Why Birth Justice?
Our health system is designed to devalue or actively harm the care of Black and brown pregnant and parenting people. This can be seen as far back as the racist origins of obstetrics and gynecology which wouldn’t exist in their current forms without the violence and coercion of Black and brown people. This continues to show up today from the criminalization and pathologization of birth and parenthood, to how people are treated in the delivery room, to how people are treated by insurance companies, to how accessible and feasible prenatal care visits and sites are.
We want to go beyond “health equity” and reimagine an affirming and community-driven system where Black and brown pregnant people are loved, invested in, and cared for in the way that they choose and deserve. We as a collective deserve to overcome racist and anti-Black systems in their entirety, not just through incremental efforts to promote parity between Black and non-Black people in a system that was never designed to support the former.
This is why we are choosing to use Asians 4 Black Births to amplify and support just these kinds of initiatives-- ones that put community and autonomy first, and ones that attempt to shift power so that people have the resources to make healthy, autonomous decisions for themselves and their communities.
We hope that this effort to directly redistribute wealth and invest into communities allows us to sow transformative seeds that meaningfully improve people’s lives. We hope that this allows us more spaciousness to uplift and admire what’s beautiful about Black birth, pregnancy, and parenthood and combat a narrative solely driven by pain and disparity.
- Anreeka Patel
- Tracy Leong
- Lizamarie Mohammed
- Tali Ramo
Fundraising team: Poppy Liu and Deepika Srivastava (2)
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