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Straddling the both / and experience


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My work never really feels like work because it is so inherently intertwined with the way I move through the world. I communicate and create visibility for reproductive justice because my experiences as a queer woman of color, means that I don’t get to separate my race and socio-economic status from my reproductive health choices. I am both a person of color AND a woman. I am both queer AND working class. I am always both/and without having the luxury of disregarding my multiple realities, which I don’t want to nor should I be forced to.

As I left work last Friday, I didn’t leave behind my worried thoughts about whether or not Governor Brown would finally stop the shackling of pregnant women or grant domestic workers their human right to sick days and earning living wages. Whether sitting at my desk, at home or somewhere else, I am always conscious of the compromises that those of us with multiple realities have to make. We either get to keep our families together or we get healthcare. We choose between safe arrangements for our children with the risk of deportation or we are collectively uprooted from the place that we call home. Even though we live our lives straddling the both/and experience, our choices very rarely reflect it.

When I got the email Friday night that Governor Brown passed AB2530, the anti-shackling bill, which supports pregnant women in California’s prisons, I celebrated. After all, wins are so few and far between for us that it would be almost boorish to not at least share a toast or do a happy dance. And because for three years my colleagues have busted their asses to sustain basic human rights for pregnant women – an avoidable fight that we should not have had to spend any time or resources fighting.

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