Many of y’all know that every day I get up and say aloud my grounding vision for equity work. It is the famous quote from Assata Shakur:
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
― Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
This always reminds me that we can not do this work all at once and we can never do it alone. Yet every day we resist, love, fight, ideate, and build community together.
I said that quote aloud back when the Roe decision was leaked and I said it on Friday when it was overturned and every day since.
Taking away access to abortion will not stop us from loving each other, and caring for each other and fighting for each other. That’s what we have always done and what we will always do.
My colleagues and I sent a newsletter earlier today to folks who participate in our Whiteness at Work program. I wanted to share some of what we wrote to them with y’all:
A rogue Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and with it the precedent that provides us rights to personal privacy, the bedrock of legal equality for women, POC and LGBTQIA+ communities among others. As organizations we do not get to talk about a commitment to DEI, racial and gender equity and not consider how deeply the workplace and labor markets will be reshaped in devastatingly sexist, transphobic and racist ways by this ruling.
Confronting a human rights violation on this scale will take collective organizing in community and within our organizations and sectors.
Employees will have immediate needs and concerns around Roe that need to be addressed and organizations will need to prepare for the far-reaching implications the ruling has on issues of personal privacy as well as what Justice Thomas suggested in his solo concurring decision to reconsider/overturn cases that protect the right to contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage.
Here are a few things we’ve been discussing with our clients, and we know there’s much more to come:
- This is an opportunity for organizations to take leadership from the folks who have been doing this work, particularly Black and brown-led organizations and reproductive justice leaders. Core to doing racial equity work is that we must center the folks most impacted and follow their lead, do that now. There are folks that have been preparing for what happened on Friday for decades. In fact, join us at a free webinar hosted by The National Network of Abortion Funds on Building Power this Thursday, June 30th.
- Get clear on what your organizational commitment is to reproductive rights and reproductive health care. How is it woven into your DEI commitments? Inevitably some of y’all will be asked to discuss the “business case” for reproductive rights before any meaningful conversation or action is taken. If you are, this is a good resource.
- A whole bunch of organizations have promised to help pay for employees who need to travel to access abortion care. If that’s you, here are some very important follow up questions to ask.
- Privacy is a huge concern with this ruling and others to come. How will your organization protect the privacy of employees seeking abortions and if your company holds user data how will you ensure the privacy of your users? When state law enforcement comes to call asking for Slack chats or user data to prosecute someone for seeking an abortion we must be ready. We must protect them. You’ll need policies for this.
- Organizations need to prepare for employees requesting office transfers and relocation due to living in states where their civil rights are being denied.
- Pay equity will need to be top of mind. For example, with a rise in demand for jobs in states that still ensure abortion rights companies could get away with paying women less due that demand.
- Companies need to be considerate about where y’all hold meetings and conferences. Pregnant employees will face a dilemma when asked to attend meetings or conferences in states where abortion is illegal because they might not be able to get access to the health care they need in the case of an emergency. Make policy changes now to address this.
- Does your company or your sector have lobbyists? What political pressure is your organization/sector able to put on politicians?
- This is going to be a long term fight. Organizations need a long term strategy. A one-time donation this week won’t cut it. Which local reproductive health care organizations will you partner with and provide ongoing monthly financial support?
- Leaders need to allow and create a container for folks to be angry, sad, scared, or frustrated. Not allowing folks to express themselves and their emotions constructively will not make this better. When has not talking about an important issue EVER been the answer?
We need to push ourselves and have uncomfortable conversations, so many lives are at risk.
We must remember that civility is a tool of white supremacy.
Emphasizing being polite, equating the raising of difficult issues with being impolite, rude, not “nice” or out of line keeps the status quo and power structure in place.
We must remember courage is a tool of freedom and liberation.
Gather your co-workers, create a coalition, deepen your analysis and push. We’ll be sending more resources your way.
“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” -Grace Lee Boggs, author and social activist
Let’s get free,