Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Terence Courtney began his organizing work in the 1990’s as a founding member of Atlanta Jobs with Justice, a local coalition of labor unions, student groups, community members, and faith organizations. During his tenure, Terence effectively bridged Civil Rights to Immigrant Rights by speaking at forums, organizing the Immigrant Worker Freedom Rides, and supporting the right for undocumented communities to gain licenses and legalization in the State of Georgia. Today, he works for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration as the Southeastern Organizer. BAJI’s mission is to organize African descended people born in the US and abroad to fight for Racial Equity, Economic Justice, and Immigrant Rights.
For our Strong Families Papa’s Day campaign, SPARK asked the father and social justice activist, “how do you work in solidarity with Black women in the fight for reproductive justice?”
“The work that I do as an organizer with the Black Alliance for Just immigration (BAJI) and all the work I’ve done as an organizer for nearly 2 decades has been about the task of dismantling oppression. Through study and practice, I’ve learned that the many forms of oppression that exist are interrelated in an intersecting matrix that impacts the life chances of Black women and Women of Color the most. Black women and Women of Color have to deal with the triple burden of economic exploitation by capitalism, gender inequality by patriarchy, and racial discrimination by white supremacy.
With this understanding, I believe that people of good will who want to create a better world have to pay attention to the challenges that Black women and Women of Color face. When we are able to liberate Black women from this triplet of oppression, we then can see a bright horizon of freedom for the rest of society. This is why I am a supporter of healthcare access, reproductive choice, and the elimination of shackling incarcerated [pregnant] women in general, and Black women specifically. Moreover, when I organize for human rights as a way to help destroy oppression, I believe it’s necessary to prioritize base building, alliance building, consciousness-raising, and leadership development for Black women.
I am constantly asking myself and those I work with questions like: How can we involve working class Black women more? What are the particular ways in which Black women are affected by a given issue? How can we support people and groups with an orientation that focuses on working class Black women and Women of Color? Are there Black women in our community already leading this fight? These are but a few of the questions we grapple with as I, and my colleagues, press for social transformation. And this helps keep us grounded in real conditions, thus making our work more strategically sound and impactful.
This is why I am glad to partner with and support the efforts of SPARK. They are doing some of the most necessary work to fight for justice. I’m honored to do my part to help move their mission forward. I offer words of encouragement, and I wish success in engaging the timely issues that Black women face.”
SPARK thanks Terence Courtney for his participation with our Papa’s Day campaign! Terence reminds us that challenging and correcting the impact of patriarchy on Women of Color are key to bridging reproductive justice and racial justice movements. Not only should reproductive justice be important to Black men, but solidarity with Black women is integral to bodily autonomy for every Black person. To learn more about Terence’s work at BAJI, visit BlackAlliance.org. To support racial justice and reproductive justice efforts in the South, make a donation to SPARK.