Dear RPCV/W Community,
I hope you are doing well and finding some enjoyment in the summer months. Here in Washington DC, it can seem hard to escape the heat of summer and the heat of administrative disappointment. Sometimes it might feel like the negative news and energy is piling on. During this time, the state of the world, and the state of the United States, can make one feel helpless. As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers dedicated to continued service, one might wonder, what can we do?
These major events are not happening overnight. There are systems in place that are actively working to dismantle the rights of as many people as possible. Understanding this might feel even more hopeless, but if we approach these issues with the small, incremental changes we have control over, we can support our communities and fight for a fairer and more equitable world. It is our duty to use our privileges to fight injustice in every way it presents itself: sexism, racism, discrimination of any kind- whether in microaggressions or blatant abuses. Every small action makes a difference. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently stated (paraphrased): “If every small action is a grain of sand, eventually the grains of sand will start to grind the gears of the machine.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade affects all of us. Abortion rights are human rights. This is a public health issue. It is a transgender rights issue. It is a racial justice issue. Intentionally exploited communities will suffer the most, as they have been bearing the brunt of injustice for far too long.
Below are actions we can take to support each other. The work is not done until all communities in the United States are safe from persecution.
- What to Know and Do about Abortion Access in D.C.- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- 14 Abortion Funds to Donate to Now That Roe v. Wade Has Been Overturned (Plus, how to tell if a fund is legitimate)- Women’s Health Magazine
- National Network of Abortion Funds- The National Network of Abortion Funds builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice.
Community Commentaries and Further Education:
The Racist History of Abortion and Midwifery Bans- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- “Today, as people debate whether anti-abortion platforms benefit Black women, the clear answer is no. The U.S. leads the developed world in maternal and infant mortality. The U.S. ranks around 50th in the world for maternal safety. Nationally, for Black women, the maternal death rate is nearly four times that of white women, and 10 to 17 times worse in some states.”
- Abortion FAQs: Why Can't I Say That?- Language considerations when discussing abortion.
Statement from Erika Hart, RPCV Ethiopia, and Sex Educator:
- “This is just a reminder that Roe v. Wade was not overturned overnight. The United States is founded on forced birth via chattel slavery to create a labor force, displacement of indigenous children via Indian boarding schools, the sale of indigenous African children into slavery, restrictive immigration policies, anti-trans legislation, sodomy laws, sterilization, and punitive laws surrounding welfare. This is all connected to maintaining the gender binary via white supremacy and will not go away unless it is seen as a fallacy.”
What to do when hope seems lost- Rachel Branaman, RPCV Namibia and Principal Consultant at Talem Consulting
- “For people with uteruses who are losing their individual civil rights to personal choice and bodily autonomy, it may seem hopeless. The Supreme Court is the highest Court in the land and there is little immediate recourse in a ruling like this. Those who seek to suppress the rights of others use these victories to overwhelm and exhaust activists and nonprofits working to protect basic human rights. In a time when the system has failed the people, it is important to understand the importance of addressing inequity through both individual and systems-change.”
Sometimes fighting for a better world seems less daunting with community. If you would like to connect with other members of our community, please reach out or post in our facebook group.
Jenna Smith, President, RPCV/W