Over the weekend, I was reminded of one of my favorite forms of coastal urban smugness. Here is a paraphrased quote:
“Maybe these Black Friday Wal-Mart protests will finally convince people to stop shopping there! Shop local! Vote with your dollar!”
This line of thinking is often accompanied by a fantasy scenario in which Wal-Mart stores are surrounded on all sides by farmer’s markets, quaint pharmacies complete with soda fountain, independent bookstores, and local organic-cotton clothing retailers – all with competitive pricing. Having lived in three different rural communities that were basically gutted by the introduction of Wal-Mart stores into their midst, I can tell you this scenario is several doors down from reality.
This month, we’re celebrating the blog’s first year as a resource for reproductive justice advocates and a place for feminist-minded Oklahomans to engage in conversation and investigation. The OK4RJ community has expanded to include voices from close-by midwestern, southern, and southwestern red states, so we’re devoting a series of posts to those perspectives. Today: Kansas!
How long have you been living/working in Kansas?
Immediately after graduation, I took a quickie vacation and moved to Kansas 5 days after I got back. So since the end of May.
What is the current state of activism around reproductive justice there?
I feel like RJ, like in Oklahoma (and most of the world), is a concept that many don’t understand. It is used interchangeably with reproductive rights when they aren’t the same. It’s hard for me to bite my tongue and say “What you’re describing is not reproductive justice, you’re referring to reproductive rights.” because it always ends in a nasty conversation. We’ve had some meetings with a Social Justice group here in town who help with voting rights, immigration, etc and they were excited to work with us because they were surprised that when they spoke to a client, they needed help with more than the issue they were meeting about. Intersectionality! Not to say there aren’t reproductive justice activists here, I just haven’t met them yet!
How does working in Kansas differ from working in Oklahoma? How is it similar?
Well, Kansas is definitely the mid-west and it feels like it. We have Republicans that vote with us on reproductive health issues! I thought they were like unicorns, some fantasy being but no! They totally exist but are close to becoming extinct.