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Michigan Group Says Reproductive Justice, Racism Not Mutually Exclusive

MOASH is encouraging its supporters to take concrete action to advance racial justice. (AdobeStock)
MOASH is encouraging its supporters to take concrete action to advance racial justice. (AdobeStock)
June 11, 2020

LANSING, Mich. -- With a global pandemic and national racial unrest, these are unprecedented times for youths in Michigan.

And sexual health advocates say they can't commit to their mission without taking a stand against police violence and racism.

As a program coordinator with the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH), Natasha Thomas-Jackson works to ensure young people have access to sexual health education and services. And she explains all of these issues are not mutually exclusive.

"If we dig deep enough, we find that the root of all of it, of all of these things, COVID or police brutality or lack of reproductive justice, a lot of it is rooted in structural inequalities around race and around class that we have to grapple with," she states.

Thomas-Jackson says the reproductive justice movement was created by black women who were excluded from the mainstream reproductive health movement, and contends that dismantling systems of oppression is the only way to shift conditions and achieve reproductive justice.

MOASH is encouraging its supporters to take concrete action to advance racial justice by supporting local protests, holding elected leaders and institutions accountable and donating to organizations supporting the cause.

As a former youth advisory council member with the organization, Micaela Stevenson says such a stance is important for the teens it works with.

"Adolescents are not just at the forefront of the violence but also at the forefront of doing a lot of the advocacy work, and so when we're doing educational outreach for them, they know they can talk with us about these things and how we're going to move forward with them," she states.

Thomas-Jackson notes that emotional and psychological safety are challenging during this time, and MOASH has responded to the pandemic by organizing virtual hangouts and connecting to youths online.

"Some of that work has expanded to also seeing what we can do to connect youths to mental health resources, to connect youth to organizations that are doing more work around racial justice, maybe reform around the justice system," she states.

MOASH has released advocacy guides to help policymakers responding to the pandemic take into account the physical and mental health needs of Michigan youths. Learn more at moash.org.

Disclosure: Michigan Organization on Adolecent Sexual Health contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, LGBTQIA Issues, Reproductive Health, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI