Dallas March to Center BIPOC Voices and Lives

  ·  Health Policy Hub   ·   Kavelle Christie

Photo Credit: Dallas Reproductive Liberation March

On Saturday, our Texas Raising Women's Voices regional coordinator, The AFIYA Center, will join allies in leading the Dallas Reproductive Liberation March in support of access to legal abortion and reproductive autonomy. They will be marching alongside AfroSOC, NuTrans Movement, Jane's Due Process and other organizations.

The march is expected to attract hundreds of supporters and will take place 1- 4 p.m. CT at the Main Street Gardens in Dallas. There, Black, brown, and Indigenous communities will speak about the harmful impact of the recent S.B. 8 abortion law. On September 1, Texas enacted S.B. 8, and to date, it is one of the most restrictive and cruel abortion bans in the U.S. The Texas law prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and incentivizes private individuals to sue anyone who provides abortion care or helps someone get care in Texas.

Michelle Anderson, Policy Associate at The AFIYA Center and an organizer of the march, says Black, brown and Indigenous community members organized the rally to ensure their experiences are centered. "[Previously], most of the conversation was centered around 'how do we get people out of the state of Texas to get an abortion?'” Anderson explains. “Black women or BIPOC folks were not a part of that conversation; it was not just about access to abortion for us but also about how S.B. 8 would impact our lives and longevity. So, we thought it was important that BIPOC lives were centered in the conversation around health care quality and reproductive autonomy."

For the organizers, the march represents "a public commitment to our shared goals of dismantling systems of racism and reproductive oppression,” Anderson says. “We will also be speaking to the experiences of what full bodily autonomy means for someone who is a part of the gender-nonconforming community. It is vital that all our voices be heard across our community. Our main goal is to ensure people are allowed to come in and share their narratives of how S.B. 8 will impact their lives.”

Ensuring they had enough voices at the table was important. Anderson and other organizers, therefore, reached out to BIPOC community members to create a steering committee. Anderson says, "We also wanted to ensure the language that was crafted, centered every experience that a woman is, that is inclusive of trans women. We wanted to make sure everybody is a part of the conversation, but we got much push back because of that.” She explains that “The steering committee was our way of making sure we maintained inclusivity through our language and presence and ensuring we were standing in solidarity and celebrating our collective autonomy."

Black joy and cultural diversity in the fight for liberation and bodily autonomy often take a back seat in white-led organizing spaces. Not this time, Anderson says of Saturday's march.

 "We even chose to do the image in a '70s style because back in the '70s, you had a little bit of freedom to move and express sexuality. So we thought this was the perfect time to use that to center Black joy and what it means to have full bodily autonomy of our authentic selves, and that doesn't just mean of our uterus, but our whole personhood," Anderson says.

She also explained that African drummers would be a focal point of Saturday's event. Additionally, Yolanda BlueHorse, co-founder of the Society of Native Nations in Texas, will open the event with an Indigenous land acknowledgment.

"This is our way of allowing people to be a part of who we are as BIPOC people and celebrate who we are and our lived experiences,” Anderson says. “This is what solidarity means, to be a part of something that will change the lives of not just one specific group but everyone's lives. This march will center joy, and everyone has their piece of what they are bringing to the march. It will probably be one of the best marches Dallas has ever seen. I'm not saying that just because I helped to organize it, but because of the thoughtfulness put into it."

Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators in Georgia and Colorado will also be lifting their voices in solidarity at local marches. The Feminist Women's Health Center in Atlanta, Georgia, will participate in the Atlanta march and attendees can catch their Executive Director, Kwajelyn J. Jackson, speaking at the rally. In Colorado, COLOR's Gina Millan will be one of the speakers at the Denver rally alongside other groups from the Reproductive Health Rights & Justice coalition.

To learn more about the Dallas Reproductive Liberation March and view scenes, click HERE.

*NOTE: This piece originally appeared in the Raising Women's Voices Newsletter. AFIYA Center is a Community Catalyst's Voices for Health Justice partner.