Transcript of the Feminist Women’s Health Center Press Statement:
I’d like to welcome you all to “Walk in My Shoes, Hear Our Voice.” My name is Kwajelyn Jackson and I am the Community Engagement Coordinator at Feminist Women’s Health Center. This event illustrates the collective strength of more than 35 local organizations that recognize the grassroots power of a unified voice for justice. We would like to thank you for standing with us today.
In the Georgia communities we serve, we are seeing the effects of severe disparities: Income inequality, poverty, racial injustice, gender discrimination, homophobia, and health disparities. And in the face of all this, Georgia lawmakers continue to attack our basic rights and freedoms. Even efforts to provide wider access and improve the health and lives of Georgians, by the Affordable Care Act and attempts to expand Medicaid, are being obstructed and denied from those who need it most. All in the name of some desperate attempt to take us back to a time when we had no voice. We are here today to say that we won’t go back! We won’t sit idly by and watch our rights continue to erode away.
- We won’t go back to a time where we weren’t allowed in establishments because of the color of our skin, when queer voices were closeted, and immigrant voices ignored.
- We won’t go back to a time where people died from treatable and preventable illness while the impoverished were judged and punished for their circumstances rather than offered help.
- We won’t go back to a time where we were without full access to contraception, safe abortion. And we won’t go back to time when our reproductive decisions were not ours to make.
We must recognize the intersection of these issues. As a coalition we believe, as Martin Luther King Jr., did that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” All of you out there, all of the people these shoes are meant to represent, have complex and complicated circumstances, all of the unique and beautiful and multi-layered parts that define our humanity. We will not let Georgia lawmakers legislate away our autonomy and our ability to thrive.
We are tired of defending off these attacks. We have a comprehensive agenda that links reproductive rights to broader social justice issues, which we call reproductive justice, and works to improve the lives of all Georgians. As the Regional Coordinator for the national initiative Raising Women’s Voices, we have been working to tell women about the important gains that the Affordable Care Act can make in their lives by expanding access to affordable health care, including preventive care and birth control without co-pays. At the same time, we recognize that these advances are not complete for many more Georgians– since Georgia is not required to accept federal funds already set aside to expand Medicaid coverage, an opportunity to invest in health care for entire families in our state.
We want a safer, stronger, more socially just Georgia that:
- Provides access to affordable, comprehensive health care for all who need it.
- Protects unfettered access to contraception and safe abortion care.
- Puts an end to racial injustice and systematic oppression.
- Creates fully exercised equality for the gay, lesbian, trans, and queer communities.
- Provides a clear pathway for legal immigration and citizenship.
- Remove the obstacles that keep people in perpetual state of poverty.
- Preserves an authentic ideal of religious freedom for all faiths that is not used to discriminate.
We will not go back! We must propel Georgia forward! In the words coined by Moral Monday NC, “Forward together, not one step back!!!” Thank you.