Finding Avenues for Reproductive Justice Education Post-Grad

GSS 101 has absolutely opened my eyes to many new frameworks for thinking and more comprehensive and fair language for communicating. Discovering the significance of intersectionality in all areas of gender and sexuality studies has been especially eye-opening and helpful for my knowledge and actions moving forward. My final literature review covered reproductive rights for minority women and how their experiences completely differ from white women, but that women of color groups have gone largely ignored and not given credit for their activism and progress in the fight for all-encompassing reproductive justice.

As GSS 101 has provided me with more comprehensive knowledge and more useful tools for speaking and acting on GSS topics, I realize that a lot of people go without the education they deserve, so I’m looking into areas where I can combine my interest in education and new interest in the fight for reproductive justice after graduation. Outside the class, I currently have a length pro-con list for two different cities I could possibly live in after graduation: Chicago and Charlotte. I’m going to add to the list by looking into a few different organizations in each city that I could get involved with.

At the top of my list in Chicago, the Chicago Foundation for Women targets the disparity in options for or access to health due to violence and poverty. The organization seeks out women in communities of need and on the margin, brings together women who have the power and ability to come up with solutions and raise money through grants and other avenues, and then implements these solutions through the combination of minds and funding. This sounds somewhat like consulting for marginalized women and their families, which might be appropriate extremely appropriate for me since I’ll be going into healthcare consulting.

Finding specific organizations in Charlotte proved a lot more difficult, but I think I would start by looking in the NC chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) and working my into the community from there. NOW stands firm that reproductive rights are more than a matter of choice and supports providing more access to education and health options for all women, especially minority women who are disproportionately affected. While NOW’s efforts seem more implicated with law and policy change, I would use the network to find more ground-level opportunities to get involved with education for women.

I’m really excited to discover this new passion, something I had always inherently cared about but never took the time to better understand and share with others. I don’t think adding these to my pro-con list will affect my final living decision, but it does show me that I will try to make it a part of my life regardless of where I end up in the states.


Charlotte CouncilWoman LaWana Mayfield

On Saturda, February 6, Charlotte Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield came to visit campus and spoke about her experiences as the first openly LGBTQ member to be elected to Charlotte City Council. Although she faced a childhood full of adversity, LaWana did not let this affect her and continued on a journey of public policy from a young age.

LaWana spoke of her career in LGBT rights and her personal journey into finding herself as a LGBTQ individual. She said that it wasn’t something that she knew all along, and in fact, she was in her mid-twenties before she had the first thoughts of the possibility that she may be a lesbian. It took her a few more years and a lot of self-searching before fully accepting and coming to the realization that she was a lesbian. When asked, she said that she had always felt like she had been ‘part lesbian’ but she hadn’t always been a full, relationship seeking lesbian.

I feel like this is evidence of Rich’s lesbian continuum in which everyone falls somewhere along the continuum and where exactly you fall can shift throughout your lifetime. At the beginning of her life, Miss Mayfield was not as far on the continuum as she currently identifies, however, she still identified herself as falling somewhere on the scale.

Since her election six years ago, she has worked tirelessly on many economic as well as social issues in her area, some of her greatest achievements being: getting Charlotte Airport in her district, the non-discrimination act extended for Charlotte, and her current battle of the “Bathroom Bill.”  Although she takes LGBT issues very seriously, she said that one of the hardest things about holding a political office as an openly LGBTQ member is not letting that title define her. She says that she cares deeply about economic policies and that is the real reason she began her career in social justice. Sometimes, many people in the LGBT community will express their anger with her because she doesn’t always make those social changes her number one priority.