Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in Momentum Alliance’s Intersectional Social Justice Camp. If you don’t already know, Momentum’s mission is to inspire young people to realize their individual and collective power and to mentor future social justice leaders. This means people within the age bracket of 12-29 years with identifications as youth of color, undocumented, immigrant, indigenous, LGBTQIA, differently abled, ESL, ELL, low-income, young parents, STI positive, people impacted by immigration and the criminal justice system, and more.
We met Monday, Wednesday, Friday for two weeks to focus on our understanding of intersectionality (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, documentation status, etc) in order to further understand how these identities intersect with systems of oppression. This sounds deep and challenging, because it was, but it was also one of those throw-your-head-back-and-laugh-every-day kind of spaces. I felt there was something powerful about acknowledging my privilege while also understanding my own trauma and the impact of my identities.
Here’s the thing, I know the values of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon as a staff member because I’ve read them on paper. I know that we value perseverance, that we are unwavering in our commitment to break down barriers to reproductive health care. But how can we prepare to advocate for this without genuinely engaging with underrepresented young people?
The camp was sacred to me because of the context and the space that Momentum Alliance created. This photo is of a project we did on our last week of camp where we all wrote down one injustice or point of intent that we as individuals are committing to changing in our lifetime. We, as a community, took turns kneeling down to write down what was our most intimate reality, from institutions to social constructs, that we are passionate about changing. We then took turns telling the group what we wrote and how we want to advocate for change. And we smashed it to pieces. This was one of many interactive workshops we participated in, all led by youth advocates, with topics ranging from “Why Boycott Driscolls,” exploring issues of immigration, farm labor, food production, and labor unions; to cultural appropriation jeopardy, developing the tools to evaluate the causes & impacts; to media literacy, examining the coverage of the Orlando Shooting from different lenses like queer Trans people of color, gun control, toxic masculinity, Islamophobic, and immigration. We also explored the power of slurs by writing down the slurs we hear about ourselves and our communities, how they makes us feel, and how to interrupt those slurs.
Reproductive justice recognizes that people have complex identities that mark race, gender, sexual orientation, class, citizenship, age, ability, and more. Meaning: it recognizes that one person can be affected by one issue in multiple ways because identities intersect one another. We at NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon use a reproductive justice lens because we understand that you can’t just claim an experience, that RJ is about the systems of oppression themselves, and as a reproductive rights organization we need to step back, to learn, and to support the work being done. Please see our reproductive justice tab to learn more about the history and source of the movement.
My words to leave you with are this: seek out meaningful relationships. First and foremost, listen. Look to others’ wisdom, experience, expertise from people who are not like you.
Secondly, support Momentum Alliance’s intersectional youth program by attending their unconventional celebration of equity, Momentum Convention, this Saturday, August 27th. There will be 300 community members and youth present. We invite you all to join us. You can purchase a ticket and/or sponsor a youth ticket here: http://www.momentumalliance.org/momentumconvention/
Another way to support MA’s work is to become a monthly or one time donor to support their powerful programming of offering camps like this: free with provided child care, bus tickets, food, and paid youth leader coaching.
Hope to see you this weekend,