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‘Fierce Aunties’ campaign for reproductive justice

"I am not a vessel"

Black Women for Wellness

Black Women for Wellness (BWW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and well-being of Black women and girls, has launched its “Fierce Aunties” campaign to engage those independent women of power within the African-American community to further the reproductive justice movement.

BWW recognizes the crucial role Aunties play within our communities. Often serving as pillars of strength and wisdom, “aunties” have historically been instrumental in nurturing and supporting their families. However, they have not always been fully included in discussions surrounding reproductive justice. The “Fierce Aunties” campaign seeks to change that narrative by inviting ‘aunties” to join the movement to secure safe and equitable sexual health services, abortions and reproductive health care for our loved ones.

The “Fierce Aunties” campaign will feature a series of events, workshops, and experiences designed to educate and empower ‘aunties” to advocate. These events include:

• Fierce Aunties Glam Day: A free makeup and photoshoot event where Aunties can participate and potentially be featured in the Fierce Auntie campaign. (April 7, 12-3pm, Ora Cafe,4331 Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park.)

• Summer Salon Story Circle Series: An intergenerational community gathering exploring the many cycles of the reproductive journey through storytelling and writing (Session One: May 3rd, 6 to 8 p.m., Session Two:June 1st, 11 to 1pm, 5757 W Adams Blvd.)

• Intro to the Reproductive Justice Movement 101 - An opportunity for Fierce Aunties to gain insights into the history of the RJ movement, learn about volunteer opportunities and how to better advocate for their own reproductive health and those in their community. (May 6, 6 to 7 p.m., virtual)

Janette Robinson Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness, emphasized the significance of “aunties” in this movement, stating, "Black women deserve safe, healthy reproductive care. We know that one way to achieve that type of care is to get Aunties on board. One thing I know for sure is that Black Aunties can move mountains."

Flint further highlighted the rich legacy of civic engagement among Black women and the campaign's aim to tap into this legacy to drive positive change.

"Black women in California come from a long history of active civic engagement. Campaigning and canvassing among Black women date back to the early 1900's. This campaign is looking to tap into that rich legacy and encourage all Fierce Aunties  to join us in the movement. We are working hard to ensure that our community has access to safe equitable reproduction health resources,” she said.

Recent polling highlights the urgency of the “Fierce Aunties” campaign. According to the In Our Own Voice: Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda's new election poll, reproductive freedom is among a top concern of Black voters. In the wake of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, more Black voters than ever are motivated to back pro-choice candidates to advance Reproductive Justice policies.

Research from a number of women’s health organizations suggest that about 40% of Black women of reproductive age express heightened concerns, including safety, mortality risks during pregnancy, potential relocation for better reproductive care access, and uncertainty about their reproductive futures after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision. Additionally, Black voters are reportedly six times more likely to support candidates advocating for abortion access over those who oppose it.

Black women have always faced limited access to health services, including family planning clinics and pharmacies in their neighborhoods. They also disproportionately experience higher rates of other reproductive health conditions, such as infant mortality, pregnancy-related complications and deaths.

Today, at least 17 states–mostly concentrated in the Southeast and Midwest–have fully or partially banned abortions. An additional 10 states have further restricted abortion access (without banning abortion outright). Also, some state legislatures have passed legislation that makes it illegal to travel across borders to obtain abortions.

The states with the highest percentage of African-Americans–37% in Mississippi, 31% in both Georgia and Louisiana, and 25% in Alabama–have the most restrictive abortion laws. Abortion is completely banned with few exceptions in Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. These bans have had a detrimental impact on access for African-American women. They now have to travel–even more so than prior to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision–to obtain an abortion, assuming they have the financial means to do so.

Black Women for Wellness invites allies and partners to join the “Fierce Aunties” campaign, recognizing that collective effort is essential in building a more just and equitable future.