by K.C. Vick, Talkline Radvocate with the Bloomington Team
Non-judgmental, full-spectrum pregnancy support is a rare and beautiful thing. Sometimes I forget that what we do at Backline is unusual. I’ve gotten so used to our small contingent of Midwestern radvocates, the support we give one another, the humbling privilege of sitting with people across the country and their experiences on the Talkline.
I am reminded of how rare that support is when I walk past the local Crisis Pregnancy Center on my way to campus. I am reminded on Thursday mornings when protestors gather in front of Planned Parenthood. I am reminded when I falter to explain Backline’s mission. Despite my outspoken support for reproductive justice, many of us working in red states understand that these conversations can get heated. Sometimes they even get threatening.
When I learned of the opportunity to travel to Norman, Oklahoma with Backline to participate in a panel at Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice, I was so excited! As an Alabama native, I am a product of a red state. My activism is a product of a red state. I chose Indiana for graduate school because I wanted to learn how to do this work in a place that wasn’t totally unlike home – complex, often forgotten, sometimes hated, but beautiful despite it all. I couldn’t wait to meet other people who were dedicated to doing reproductive justice work in the “fly-over” zones of the United States.
The 12 hour drive from Indiana to Oklahoma was absolutely worth it. All of the panelists and speakers we heard are testaments to the incredible community of activists, academics, and advocates at work for reproductive justice across red states. I learned about community-building, about sitting with my own privilege and shutting up, and about coalition building. I heard personal stories of environmental degradation, violence outside of clinics, and the state-sanctioned separation of families. I came home emotionally and mentally exhausted, but full of hope. I am still processing the conference – thinking about how to move forward here in Indiana with Backline and looking ahead to my eventual return home to Alabama.
The most amazing thing that I took away from Take Root was an immense feeling of pride in both Alabama and Indiana. I love these states, my two homes. The people of both Alabama and Indiana deserve our work. And they/we are not lost causes. Change is happening. It is an uphill battle, but it is so worth it. Let’s keep fighting until Backline’s Talkline is rendered obselete by full-spectrum, community-level support in every town, in every state.
I hope to see y’all at Take Root 2015!