SPARK Statement on the Atlanta Homeless Union Demands and City Response

July 9, 2021

SPARK stands in solidarity with the Atlanta Homeless Union in their demand for housing, healthcare, water, and a seat at the table. These demands represent central tenets of Reproductive Justice – we all need access to safe places to live, clean water, comprehensive healthcare, and a say in the policies that govern us in order to make liberatory decisions about our bodies, lives, and futures. 

Due to systemic and interpersonal structures of oppression, economic insecurity is correlated along lines of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogynoir. Our base members in particular face a heightened risk of experiencing housing insecurity, especially at a time where access to affordable housing has reached the point of crisis in Atlanta. We demand that our city leadership use taxpayer funds to address the tangible outcomes of structural inequality by increasing access to necessary resources – including creating long term housing options. 

We strongly oppose the Atlanta Police Department’s decision to sweep the Atlanta Homeless Union’s encampment and make a series of arrests on Monday. The criminalization of housing insecurity does nothing to address the root of the problem, but is instead an attempt to hide the existence and humanity of unhoused people. Arresting people for the circumstances of housing insecurity does not keep our communities safe. Instead, we need access to resources, safety from police violence, and decreased surveillance in order to thrive. The Union deserves a platform to safely exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of being further victimized by APD and the criminal legal system. 

A Message From SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! – The Equality Act

The Equality Act
February 25, 2021

Today, Thursday, February 25, 2021, the United States House of Representatives is set to vote on the Equality Act. The Equality Act is a bill that would legally ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This bill would be an amendment to the already existing federal civil rights laws to include the aforementioned protections as well as prohibiting such discrimination in public places, on transportation and in government-funded programs.

Although many states have established anti-discrimination legislation, many of these laws have left the queer, Trans and gender diverse communities vulnerable to discrimination. This long overdue legislation is a necessity in the protection of our folks’ basic human services. The Reproductive Justice movement is rooted in the belief that all individuals and communities should have the resources and power to make sustainable and liberatory decisions about their lives. If passed, The Equality Act will bring us one step closer to a reality in which this is possible.

In Georgia we are currently facing HB 276 — “a bill that would make it illegal for Trans girls and women to participate on sports teams with their cisgender peers. This is one of many similar bills filed in state legislatures across the country as part of a coordinated attack on the rights of Trans and gender diverse people in the U.S.” (SPARK HB 276 Statement). The passing of The Equality Act could potentially put a halt to bills such as Georgia’s HB 276, guaranteeing through law that these blatantly Transphobic bills do not have a standing in our society. 

The full text of The Equality Act is available here.

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!, Inc. – Statement on HB 276

Statement on HB276
February 9, 2021

This past Wednesday, six lawmakers in the Georgia State House of Representatives introduced HB 276 – a bill that would make it illegal for trans girls and women to participate on sports teams with their cisgender peers. This is one of many similar bills filed in state legislatures across the country as part of a coordinated attack on the rights of trans and gender diverse people in the U.S.

If passed, HB 276 would require all public and private K-12 schools and state universities to discriminate against trans and gender diverse student athletes. Hyperbolic and unsupported claims of unfair competition are no justification for systemically discriminating against children as young as 5 years old. This bill serves no legitimate purpose and is yet another thinly veiled attempt to advance a bigoted, transphobic agenda.

Reproductive Justice envisions a world where parents can raise their children in safe and supportive communities. This means that every child should be given the opportunity to participate in activities that enrich their lives physically and mentally. Georgia’s legislators should be giving schools the resources they need to support and affirm trans and gender diverse students. Instead, House Representatives Singleton, Cantrell, Lott, Jones, Carpenter, and Mathiak are trying to require Georgia schools to discriminate against them. 

Learn how to make your voice heard on this bill and other Reproductive Justice policy issues by registering for LegislateTHIS!, SPARK’s annual training and advocacy day. LegislateTHIS! will build up your advocacy skills and explore ways to affect change both within and outside of the legislative process – from directly lobbying lawmakers to community based mutual aid. 

More information and the full text of HB 276 is available here. The House Education Committee will be discussing this bill today, February 9, 2021, at 1:30 pm. You can watch a livestream of the conference here.

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc. – Insurrection Response

Insurrection Response
January 8, 2021

It goes without saying that this week’s insurrections were the inevitable culmination of a country that protects the interests of white supremacy. Georgia’s capitol building saw a similar demonstration, and we can’t help but note the stark contrast between the response to this incident and the uprisings this summer. To witness coordinated, armed combatants determined to protect the interests of white supremacy surge around the nation protected by police officers and goaded by the president is an affront to Black people who have been victims of and witnessed state violence perpetrated against them, particularly Black queer and Trans folks who have been murdered by the state. This insurrection is a response to the perceived threat to white supremacy and its interests. As we inch towards liberation, it is clear that the goals of Reproductive Justice and Queer and Trans liberation go against those of the harmful, oppressive systems in which we currently live. 

This incident and the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare the fact that the current capitalist white supremacist system that we live in is untenable. Despite the impending change in administration, demonstrations of this nature will not stop. The oppressive systems that we live within continue to exist. It is a system that is harmful to all of us and pervades most if not all facets of our lives. At this moment, rage is acceptable, despair is acceptable, fatigue is acceptable; complacency is not. This is a moment where we must center the needs and safety of Black queer and trans folks particularly as they are disproportionately murdered by the state. SPARK will continue to center these voices and work to abolish these systems and affirm Reproductive Justice and Queer Liberation. We recognize that true power lies within the people and communities organizing and strategizing against harmful policies and systems. Now more than ever is a time to find your community, organize, and care for one another.

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc is a grassroots organization that builds community and fights for the liberation of all Black, brown, and indigenous people of color. We uplift and honor those working for justice across the nation and will continue to advocate for our communities. To learn more about SPARK, organizing, and legislative advocacy, you can attend SPARK’s Organizing Intensive on January 30.

The Power in a Name Project

The Power in a Name Project is a long-term organizing and advocacy campaign to affirm and uplift Trans and Non-binary folks in the state of Georgia.

This project will assist Trans and Non-binary folks in navigating the often lengthy name and gender marker change process by providing the resources necessary to make the current processes easier. In addition, this project will utilize grassroots organizing and advocacy to transform culture and policies in the state of Georgia. The project will work to take away barriers for Trans and Non-binary folks in legally changing their names and gender markers.

Visit www.thepowerinanameproject.com for more information.

SPARK’s 2020 Policy Report is now live!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL REPORT

This report aims to highlight and lift up the critical research conducted by Trans and Gender Diverse communities to provide an intersectional analysis of the current state of health care experienced by TGD folx in Georgia. It furthermore seeks to identify the policies in place that both harm and help TGD communities, and how laws and policies play a role in the health and wellbeing of TGD communities by determining the extent to which TGD folx are exposed to social determinants of health such as racism, transmisogyny, and economic inequity. This report provides an overview of helpful language and concepts from the reproductive justice framework that guide SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!’s advocacy. Finally, this report and its inserts offer an accessible overview of TGD rights and protections under the law in Georgia and the U.S. and what SPARK’s policy recommendations are to improve the health disparities experienced by Trans and Gender-Diverse people. 

 

Spread the word about our policy report and the important information it provides by posting on social media!
CLICK HERE for our social media toolkit

There is NO Black Liberation Without Queer & Trans Liberation!

SPARK is a Black-led Reproductive Justice organization that centers our work in Queer and Trans liberation. We know that without Queer and Trans liberation, there is no Black liberation.

There can be no Reproductive Justice when Black womxn are criminalized, Black trans and non-binary people are marginalized, and Black parents cannot see their children grow in peace.

It is imperative that we continue to challenge the erasure of Black womxn, and Queer and Trans folx in the conversations and actions around police violence, brutality, and killing of ALL BLACK LIVES.

JusticeNOW2020 Early Bird Registration deadline has been EXTENDED!

In recognition of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our personal lives, work lives, mental and physical states, the JusticeNOW2020 team has decided to extend our Early Bird Registration deadline to Friday, May 1. We hope that this extension will give you more time to sort out your future plans and relieve a small portion of any stress that these uncertain times have caused.

Like us, I’m sure that you all were saddened to hear that our friends at CLPP had to cancel their dynamic and movement-building annual conference. But, we are excited to announce that in true Reproductive Justice form, we are working with CLPP to shift some of their planned conference sessions to JusticeNOW2020. We are looking to combine the spirit and community that CLPP has built over the past 34 years with JusticeNOW2020’s cross-movement space.

We hope to see you all at JusticeNOW2020 in November and we are looking forward to reconnecting and sharing a physical space post-social distancing.

Please visit www.justicenowcon.com for more information about the conference.

A Message from SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Inc. — COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty, we here at SPARK are committed to centering our communities, those most affected, safety and comfort. Our approach is informed by our own expertise in public health and emergency response, radical community organizing, and with the evolving guidance of the CDC. Further, in these coming weeks we are uplifting healing, disability justice, and community in the work that we will continue to do. 

The Steps We Are Taking
SPARK, as an organization, will be practicing social distancing as a precaution and to hold true to our Reproductive Justice values of centering the safety and health of our communities and our staff. To do so, SPARK’s physical office will be closed for a minimum of 2 weeks, while we continue to monitor the state of public health in Atlanta, GA.

Workplace Readiness Response
As of last week, we have shifted to remote work from home, are temporarily suspending work-related non-essential travel, and are offering digital options for work related gatherings and meetings–with our partners and base. SPARK will be promoting community work block times–to allow us to collectively support each other’s work while centering social support, 1:1 team member support sessions, extended sick leave options, and flexible schedules. 

Shifting our Radical Community Organizing to Radical Digital Community Organizing and Engagement
We will be shifting current and ongoing programming to digital platforms where possible and adding new ways to engage to our roster. We plan to create a Facebook support group to connect with those who are the most vulnerable at this time (the elderly, the immunocompromised, etc.) and those who are simply overwhelmed, anxious, or lonely. We are also planning to have some fun social activities for folx to engage in as well. Whether it be a book club with an online chat, a viewing party, or just a digital ki.

A Request of Our Partner Organizations
During this time we will have to shift our participation in coalition and partner meetings to a video platform. We will reassess our ability to participate in person following the initial two week period.

Please continue to keep us up-to-date on your programming and ways to plug in. We are still excited to collaborate with you, whether it be via zoom, skype, or FaceTime. We do not want the work to stop and we are invested in continuing to explore specific ways we can support during this time. 

Resources
Over the next few days, we will begin compiling any resources we or others may have to offer to the community. As a part of our desire to continue to uplift healing justice, this will be a top priority for us.  

CDC guidelines: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Online Meeting/Gathering Resources
Zoom Video Tutorials
How can organizers adapt to a world with social distancing?
College Students: U-Haul Offers 30 Days Free Self-Storage amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Donate Coronavirus: Wisdom from a Social Justice Lens Podcast Episode

Controlling COVID-19 transmission continues to rely greatly on common health promotion efforts and practices, such as, sanitizing/disinfecting commonly used surfaces, hand-washing, covering your cough or sneeze, and when possible social distancing. Let’s continue to center each other and do our part in taking on these practices. Also, in a time of social distancing, we know that this can affect our mental health and social wellness. As we mentioned, we will be pouring our efforts into identifying many ways of actively engaging our communities and creating opportunities for social support. 

In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, each other, and our communities to the best of our abilities. And, if capacity allows, offering additional support to those who are most at risk, including our elders, and those with pre-existing health conditions and/or are immunocompromised.

We will keep you all updated as to when we will be returning to our office and normal office operations. 

Lastly, we encourage you all to communicate your own ideas and desires for SPARK. WE ARE STILL HERE! We are still working to uplift Trans folx, Queer folx, Youth folx of color, Black womxn, and Womxn of color. Please do not hesitate to tell us what you want and need. 

We can be reached through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @SPARKRJNOW or at info@sparkrj.org or carter@sparkrj.org.