More than just a hit 90s song, “Let’s Talk About Sex” is a powerhouse convergence of reproductive justice organizers from around the country. Long before Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization rocked the nation, SisterSong convened the “Let’s Talk About Sex” conference in 2007.
This year’s theme is “Our Blueprint for a Body Revolution.” A hybrid virtual and in-person affair, the “Let’s Talk About Sex” conference is a major component of SisterSong’s work. Monica Simpson, SisterSong’s executive director, called the convening a revolutionary act.
Meeting in Texas two months after the Supreme Court dismantled the right to abortion in Dobss is no coincidence. Last year, Texas preemptively passed what was at the time the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country. This year’s conference is hosted by Dallas-based The Afiya Center, a Black-led Texas reproductive justice organization.
Sessions include hands-on workshops discussing practical solutions to strategic conversations around issues like organizing around faith. Simpson called this a “historical kind of moment” for the reproductive justice movement. Created by Black women, the reproductive justice movement is led by people of color and uniquely qualified to lead in this moment.
Abortion and reproductive rights are not a new conversation for Black women
While some have tried to frame the abortion conversation as a white women’s issue, there is a deep history of Black women involved in reproductive spaces. Simpson stresses that Black women have long been a part of conversations around reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. Black women have been in this fight.
“We have been controlling our own fertility since we were stolen from our own land,” Simpson said. “We have been the midwives, we’ve been the doulas, we have been sex educators in our community when nobody was talking about it.”
People have begun to understand that abortion access is a healthcare battle. For SisterSong and other reproductive justice organizations, the connection must be understood.
“This reproductive justice framework has given us the ability to bring everybody into this conversation around abortion and sexual health,” Simpson explained. “All of this is connected. We can’t get or have Black liberation in this country if we are not centering our bodies and what our bodies need to thrive. And that’s exactly what the work of reproductive justice is about.”
Tapping into authentic cultural moments enhances organizing opportunities
Simpson shared with NewsOne that it’s also important to incorporate culture work into the organizing that SisterSong and other groups are doing. “P. Valley” all-stars J. Alphonse Nicholson, Shannon Thornton and Tyler Lepley will join the convening in a vivid conversation Saturday evening.
Simpson shared that in outreach to members of our communities, people might not understand specific terms or concepts. But shows like “P. Valley” bring these issues to audiences regularly and in a language they can understand.
“If I’m able to give them a scene from ‘P. Valley’ that helps them see the story,” she said. “Because of these storylines, people can see themselves reflected. And I think that’s just been a missing piece from our work, particularly around sexual reproductive justice.”
Understanding the cultural moments that resonate with people is essential to the work Simpson and others are doing. But more than just giving celebrities talking points, Simpson said it’s possible to include them as allies in shifting people’s understanding.
“It’s like a passion of mine, to build a powerful bridge between our activist world and social justice, work and arts and culture,” Simpson said. “I want us to be an unstoppable movement where black folks see themselves reflected in every single way and that we are using all of our people power possible to make change happen.”
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