SPARK Trans Leadership Initiative

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! is putting out a call for transgender & non-binary identifying individuals of color seeking to enhance their leadership skills and develop trans-oriented programming as part of a new SPARK initiative!

Want to get involved?

Join us for an Interest Social on TUESDAY, JUNE 13th from 6-9pm at the Georgia Hill Neighborhood Center to learn more about the initiative. You can also email the program coordinator, Taylor Trimble (they/she) at Taylor@sparkrj.org for more information.

RSVP via Facebook, and share the event with your friends!

Kick it With SPARK!

In observance of mental health awareness month, SPARK invites you to join us for a self-care social on Saturday May 27th where we can share our mental health journeys with members of our communities over tasty treats and seasonal refreshments. We believe that one of the ways to combat mental health stigma is to create intentional spaces where members of our communities can freely express themselves and connect with others in the same situation.

Stay tuned for details on the location and share this event with your communities via Facebook.

Shut down the AHCA! #MyCoverageMatters

Atlanta, GA, Wednesday, May 10, 2017: The United States House Of Representatives narrowly passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week, rushing it into a vote even before it could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The AHCA is a culmination of Trump’s long-standing threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which had provided one of the largest expansions of health coverage in a generation and had most notably been successful at protecting people with pre-existing conditions from health coverage discrimination.

The bill now moves to the Senate where it will be reviewed by an all-male Health Care Working Group comprising 13 Republican party leaders, including Ted Cruz and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, in a move that has widely been criticized by both Senate Democrats and moderate conservatives.

SPARK has long worked towards medicaid expansion in Georgia and we firmly believe that the the proposed medicaid structure under the AHCA would further hinder the state’s flexibility to find innovative solutions to health disparities that face our communities. We publicly condemn this bill and call upon YOU to join us in letting our elected representatives know that the AHCA not only puts the health of millions of Americans at jeopardy but further endangers the lives of those most marginalized in society. With a list of pre-existing conditions that includes everything from pregnancy to domestic abuse and rape, the AHCA is clearly an ethically indefensible bill and does nothing to reduce premiums or expand coverage. In fact, the AHCA is slated to redirect over $600 billion in federal funds that have historically been used for coverage expansion to high-income households, effectively making it a tax-cut for the rich and not a healthcare bill for all Americans.

Activists across the nation have launched a campaign against the AHCA and SPARK urges you to add your voice to this grassroots movement to tell our elected representatives that we will not stand for this harmful bill.

TWEET YOUR THOUGHTS! Participate in our twitter chat on Tuesday 5/16 from 11:00am – 3:00pm by sharing your personal health access stories and thoughts on the already extensive list of pre-existing conditions that are not protected under the AHCA using the hashtags #MyCoverageMatters and #WeExistUnconditionally. Tag SPARK on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and we will repost your comments throughout the chat.

SHOW UP! May is Mental Health Awareness Month and SPARK will be addressing the mental health issues in our communities and highlighting the resulting impacts on relationships, employment and overall health. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 24 million Americans will lose mental health coverage by 2026 under the AHCA. Studies repeatedly show a link between lack of mental health access and homelessness and it is these members of our communities that are most vulnerable to stigmatization, exploitation and brutal victimization. SPARK will be out in the field on Thursday 5/11 from 10:00am – 11:30am speaking with homeless people in our community to record their personal mental health stories. Want to join us? Email our volunteer coordinator, Taylor Trimble (she/they) at Taylor@sparkrj.org for more information.

For more information on SPARK and the AHCA contact:

Dr. Krystal Redman

Executive Director

SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!

404-331-3250

Krystal@sparkrj.org

Mental Health Awareness Month

In observance of mental health awareness month, SPARK will be addressing the mental health issues in our communities and highlighting the connections between discrimination and stress, along with the resulting impacts on relationships, employment and overall health.

A wealth of psychological research shows that discrimination can exacerbate stress. Moreover, discrimination-related stress is linked to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, even in children. In a recent report on the state of Stress in America™, the American Psychological Association found that nearly seven in 10 adults (69 percent) in the U.S. report having experienced any discrimination, with 61 percent reporting experiencing day-to-day discrimination, such as being treated with less courtesy or respect, receiving poorer service than others, and being threatened or harassed. (Source)

Throughout the month of May, SPARK invites you to share your mental health experiences with us using the hashtag #LetItBeGlorious. We want to hear your personal stories of recovery, struggle, or hope. We believe that one of the ways to combat mental health stigma is to create intentional spaces where members of our communities can freely express themselves and connect with others in the same situation. Tag SPARK on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and add your voice to the conversation by sharing creative content such as poetry, inspirational quotes, photos, videos, song lyrics and messages of support.

RJ DAY FOR IMMIGRANTS

In observance of #RJDay4Immigrants, SPARK is joining All Above All along with our community partners across the nation to send a message to our elected representatives that immigrant rights are inseparable from reproductive justice as a cross-sectional liberation movement.

One of the ways we are pledging support to immigrant communities is by joining Asian Americans Advancing Justice in a public petition to Governor Nathan Deal asking that he veto House Bill 37 & House Bill 452 as we believe them to be harmful to our communities and a violation of the basic reproductive justice tenets that call for the liberation of all people regardless of race, gender or nationality.

We ask you to veto two pieces of anti-immigrant legislation passed in the 2017 Legislative Session: House Bill 37 and House Bill 452. These bills are clear attempts to target immigrant communities and will position Georgia as an unwelcoming state for business, travel, and future immigration.

As laid out in House Bill 37, private universities should not be targeted for providing opportunities to all students, regardless of immigration status. Withholding state and pass-through federal funding would only serve to penalize educators for doing their jobs and protecting their students. As of this bill’s passing, Emory University and others have already stated that they will not pursue sanctuary policies at this time. Additionally, this bill will violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by allowing university officials to disclose a student’s immigration status to law enforcement. This bill is frivolous, can violate federal student privacy laws, and only serves the purpose of intimidating immigrant communities. We respectfully ask you to veto House Bill 37.

Similarly, House Bill 452 raises a wide range of concerns. The bill creates serious privacy concerns by publicly posting personal information on the GBI website. In addition, the bill’s language is overly broad and can be used to target immigrants for minor criminal offenses. Lastly, we are concerned that it conflicts with federal terrorism and national security law.

You can sign on as individuals, as well as with your organizations, and we invite you to send it out to community members and groups!

Read the entire letter and find more information here: http://bit.ly/2oEsekf

From The Sea Islands to Beyonce – The Legacy of The Igbo Landing In Contemporary American Culture

Image c/o Mikael Owunna: Beyoncé in the music video for “Love Drought” marching into the water followed by a procession of black women.

One of the guests on our upcoming podcast, Mikael Owunna, is, among many things, well-known for his article on the link between Beyonce’s music video “Love Drought,” Julie Dash’s film “Daughters of The Dust” and the myth of the Igbo Landing.

[Mikael Owunna’s Image description: Donovan Nelson’s artistic depiction of Igbo Landing in charcoal. It shows the Igbo slaves marching into a body of water with the water already up to their necks and their eyes closed. Image via Valentine Museum of Art]

As Mikael writes:

For those who don’t know, Igbo Landing is the location of a mass suicide of Igbo slaves that occurred in 1803 on St. Simons Island, Georgia. As the story goes, a group of Igbo slaves revolted and took control of their slave ship, grounded it on an island, and rather than submit to slavery, proceeded to march into the water while singing in Igbo, drowning themselves in turn. They all chose death over slavery. It was an act of mass resistance against the horrors of slavery and became a legend, particularly amongst the Gullah people living near the site of Igbo Landing.

Not only is the story of Igbo Landing one of the key themes of Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust, which influenced LEMONADE, but its imagery also appears to be central to the “Love Drought” video. In the video, Beyoncé marches into the water followed by a group of black women all in white with black fabric in the shape of a cross across the front of their bodies. They march progressively deeper into the water before pausing and raising all of their hands toward the sunset.

Join us TODAY 4/20 at Georgia State University’s Alliance for Gender & Sexual Diversity located in Room 467 of Student Center West located at 141 Courtland Street SE, Atlanta, GA 30303 for a screening of Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust and stick around for a discussion on the legacy of the Igbo Landing as we sip on some lemonade and other seasonal refreshments.

Daughters Of The Dust – A Film Screening and Discussion

SPARK invites you to a screening of Daughters Of The Dust, a Great Migration drama set in 1902 and celebrated today as a landmark film that showcases the significance of the Georgia-South Carolina Sea Islands in the construction of Southern culture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Written and directed by Julie Dash, Daughters Of The Dust tells the story of a Gullah family’s struggle to maintain their roots while trying to transcend the phantasmic shackles of slavery that lingered beyond abolition. The film fell into anonymity since its release 25 years ago and has recently re-entered the zeitgeist after it served as the primary source material for Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade.

Join us this THURSDAY 4/20/17 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at The Georgia State University’s Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity in room 467 of Student Center West, located at 141 Courtland Street SE, for a screening of Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust and stick around for a discussion on black migrations as we sip on some lemonade and other seasonal refreshments.

Share the event with your community via FACEBOOK.