FYRE MEDIA CAMP 2017: Now Accepting Applications!

This year’s FYRE Camp, RHYTHM NATION, seeks to hold an intentional space for movement building for queer and trans youth of color and cisgender Black women to find our strengths and build trust through dance. We believe we can “move” through this political climate by asserting our bodily autonomy and embodying a positive body consciousness to find our own “rhythm” within the revolution.

Click here to read more about previous FYRE Camps.

SPARK aims to build a base of leaders who will re-imagine and create artistic narratives for our resilience, our lives, and our communities. The 2017 Health Advocacy Cohort will focus on issues surrounding abortion culture, stigma, and access; sexual health, such as HIV prevention and treatment, PrEP and PEP; health care access; and base-building.

This year’s camp will be held in Atlanta, GA from July 20-23.

Stay tuned for more details on the exact location and curriculum.

Click here to apply as a camper.

Click here to apply as a peer-leader.

 

Justice Doesn’t Trickle Down

A class-only approach is not only wrong; it is also wrong-headed. We need a woman-focused economic agenda that is intersectional, broad, and deep. SPARK Executive Director, Dr. Krystal Redman, outlined how to do this in a newly-released paper with Ms. Foundation For Women.

The report was also the subject of a Salon article where Dr. Redman is quoted in reference to the gendered and racialized disparities and inequities that have come to characterize the U.S. health system:

Krystal Redman, whose work with SPARK Reproductive Justice Now is highlighted in the report, agreed. “Accessibility to coverage is important,” Redman explained over the phone, noting that racial and gendered barriers to care don’t “solely go away just because someone has coverage.”

 

“There are many providers who have their own ideas of how a patient should be treated based on how they present,” Dr. Redman said.

 

As an example, Redman argued that a black woman with four children who goes to the gynecologist is more likely to be pushed into a long-acting form of contraception than a similarly situated white woman, who is more likely to have a chance to engage in dialogue with a doctor about whether she wants any more children.

 

Another huge example of the limits of an economics-only framework is the way that law enforcement treats white people differently than black and brown people. Just this week, Redman said, she had personal experience with that. Her husband, “a dark-skinned black man, tall, dreads, everything like that,” was pulled over “because the cop said he was following too closely behind another vehicle,” she claimed.

 

“We can’t overcome those small heart-flashes of, ‘Oh God, am I going to be safe?’” when things like that happen, she said, and that’s why “we need to center race” in the progressive movement.

 

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 Eventbrite, and share the event with your friends!

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

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.

Welcome to SPARK, Randi!

We are pleased to welcome Randi Gregory to the SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW family as our new Director of Programs!

Randi is a native of GA and studied Speech Communications at the University of Georgia. She has been a life-long progressive, but didn’t become active until after working on a Senate race in Arkansas where she became even more excited about working on community issues with volunteers. After working as the Atlanta Field Director for the 2010 elections, Randi became a union organizer with Service Employees International Union where she organized a wide variety of healthcare workers. She most recently worked as the Central/Southern Ohio Organizer for NARAL Pro Choice Ohio which sparked her interest for Reproductive Justice. Randi enjoys travelling, good or bad movies, is a Gates Millennium Scholar and a proud member of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority Inc.

We are honored to have Randi as a member of our team and know we will accomplish great things together! Join us in welcoming Randi Gregory and wishing her the best in her journey with SPARK.

Free Breast Health Screenings

The Health Initiative is hosting a series of no-cost community breast health screening days that are open for registration now!  Services provided are made possible by a grant from Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta and It’s the Journey.

Screenings will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017 between 9:00 AM & 2:00 PM at The Health Initiative site located in The Phillip Rush Center. You can register for the screening hereThere are limited spots available so sign up now!

Participants must be at least 35 years old. All of these services are trans* inclusive.

The Health Initiative will contact you to select your appointment time after you register.

What Does RJ Mean To You?

The SPARK Organizing Intensive (SOI) engages an intergenerational cohort of reproductive justice and sexual health advocates through collaborative intensive political skill development for comprehensive and sound reproductive justice policies in the Southeast.

As a lead up to Legislate This!, the SOI is geared towards supporting and empowering people of color, while centering the experiences of Black Women and queer & trans youth of color. The training is an opportunity for both new and experienced organizers and activists to dig deep on pressing issues that affect our communities across identities, gain concrete organizing and campaign building skills, and directly organize and support community events and projects throughout 2017.

This year, the training was held at the Troy Moore Library at GSU and we were joined by Devin Barrington-Ward, a long-time supporter and lobbyist for SPARK as well as Sable Nelson, Esq., the Policy and Advocacy Program Manager at SisterLove, Inc.

SPARK thanks you all for your attendance and encourages you all to make your voices heard as advocates and allies in the fight for reproductive justice.

Tweet us or tag us on Instagram and Facebook and tell us what RJ means to you!

Meet Our Keynote Speaker, Jennifer Barnes!

LegislateTHIS! is our annual statewide day of action and advocacy where you can expect to hear from key leaders about pertinent public policy issues and educate our policymakers at the GA Capitol about the reproductive justice agenda.

We are just a mere hours away from the 10th Annual LegislateTHIS! taking place tomorrow, THURSDAY FEB 23, from 9:00am – 2:00pm, at Trinity United Methodist Church, and are doubly honored to have Jennifer Barnes as the Keynote Speaker who, among many things, recently delivered an unflinching indictment on the state’s negligent housing practices at SPARK’s hearing with the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus on the HIV epidemic in Georgia.

For the 2017 legislative session, SPARK invokes Kimberlee Crenshaw’s work on #Intersectionality, and calls on YOU to carry on in the tradition of grassroots community leaders, like Jennifer, who believe that we can speak truth to power and hold our elected representatives accountable through the collective power of #ReproductiveJustice.

Register for the 10th Annual Legislate THIS! today.