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.

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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.

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.

Share Your Thoughts!

SPARK is working with the Centers for Disease Control to identify trans youth interested in being interviewed about what makes them feel healthy, happy and strong.

Interested in being a part of the study? Call or text Michelle at 678-519-7581 to see if you qualify. Interviews will take place at SPARK. If you qualify for the study and choose to help, you will be offered a free gift!

The Pillars Of Equity

Participants listen to remarks from a speaker at the International Women’s Day rally in the shadow of Trump Tower, Wednesday March 8, 2017, in New York. Image c/o AP/Bebeto Matthews.

SPARK Board Chair, Heidi Williamson, recently published a research paper with the Center For American Progress on the pillars of reproductive justice:

Reproductive health and rights are inextricably linked with reproductive justice. The five key pillars that should be at the core of an economic agenda to address the needs of women and their families are:

  • Self-determination
  • Access to comprehensive reproductive health services
  • Affordability of care
  • Parenting with respect and dignity
  • Workplace and caregiving supports

Each pillar represents a key component that all women need to thrive and be healthy. These pillars are valuable individually but are also mutually reinforcing to anchor a policy agenda that meets the intersectional needs of working women.

Read the rest of the paper here and tell us what #RJmeans to you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!