From the March-April 2016 issue of News & Letters
Editor’s note: Because of its importance we print the statement from Trust Black Women Partnership in its entirety.
OUR MISSION AND HISTORY
The mission of the Trust Black Women Partnership is to develop a strong network of Black women’s organizations and individuals mobilized to defend our human right to make abortion and family planning decisions for ourselves. We work to counter the growing anti-abortion movement in the African-American community and defeat race- and gender-based campaigns and legislation that limit abortion access for Black women. We educate our communities, legislators and leaders of color about Reproductive Justice issues from Black women’s perspectives. We also stand for the human right of every Black person, regardless of their gender identity or expression, to end a pregnancy, continue a pregnancy, build a family, and raise children with health, dignity, and freedom from violence. After five years of building power and organizing, we are now re-launching Trust Black Women, and we are stronger than ever.
The Reproductive Justice movement, created in 1994, the Trust Black Women Partnership, created in 2010, and the Black Lives Matter movement, created in 2012, were created because the lives of Black people were in peril. All were born out of a demand for the self-determination and liberation of Black people in this country. And all were born because of the leadership of Black women.
OUR SHARED STRUGGLE
For more than 20 years, Reproductive Justice advocates, grounded by an intersectional power analysis and commitment to centering the most marginalized, have articulated the pressing need to value Black women and families, respect the decisions of Black women, and assure the basic human right to determine our own destinies. This encompasses the ability to prevent or end a pregnancy, to live and build and raise a family with dignity, and to have the resources to do so. Through and through, we have asserted the value of Black lives by fighting systemic racism, economic injustice, state-sanctioned violence, and the denial of our reproductive self-determination.
Fundamentally, Trust Black Women, rooted in Reproductive Justice, and Black Lives Matter are movements to affirm the value of Black lives, to protect the dignity and autonomy of Black bodies, and to dismantle the systems that harm and oppress Black communities. As we recognize our common values, we stand stronger against those who would co-opt our language or strategies to use against Black women, or any member of our communities. As we learn from the past, we must recognize the harms of de-centering Black women and the need to support Black women’s leadership and well-being.
Trust Black Women and Black Lives Matter assert — unapologetically — that Black people must be at the center of progressive work for social justice and moral progress.
STANDING IN SOLIDARITY
As Black women leaders, activists and supporters of the Reproductive Justice movement and members of the Trust Black Women Partnership, we offer our formal solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The United States has a long history of over-policing and over-criminalizing Black bodies that started with the forced removal of Africans from our homeland. Ever since we were brought here against our will, this country has been a hostile birthing environment for Black women, and a dangerous place to raise Black children. This nation has yet to prove that Black Lives Matter, and it has yet to prove its ability to Trust Black Women.
Trust Black Women is grateful to Black Lives Matter for building the movement for Black lives to a critical tipping point: no longer can the public or our political leaders ignore our struggle. We also recognize the role of Reproductive Justice and Trust Black Women in contributing to this tipping point. We walk in one another’s footprints even as we stand side by side.
We offer to the Movement for Black Lives the analysis that brought Trust Black Women into being: an analysis that centers Black women, low-wage workers, LGBTQ people, and those living at the crossroads of these identities. We offer to the Movement for Black Lives our commitment to hold gender justice as dear as racial justice, with Reproductive Justice as the core of both these aspirations.
We seek community, fellowship, and connection with Black Lives Matter, and we know that we must stand together or fall separately. Our lives are at stake. To realize a future where Black Lives Matter, we must Trust Black Women. To Trust Black Women is to affirm that Black Lives do Matter.
So we say, in the same breath, in the same freedom song: Trust Black Women. Black Lives Matter. Together we march toward justice for us all.
To see the signatories go to: http://www.trustblackwomen.org/solidarity-with-black-lives-matter