Entering the Second Term of Leadership, Head Raised, and Daring to Be Powerful
Like all of you, I am still reeling from Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson that overturned Roe v. Wade, endangering the lives of people across our country. Although we all knew this was coming, it didn’t make it hurt any less. It didn’t stop me from going to my front porch, my sanctuary of peace, and cry and then scream. While I have gone through a range of emotions over the last several days, I am focused and committed for what lies ahead. BISC is too.
For the last several years, we have been working closely with our partners in the reproductive freedom movement to be ready for this moment. We’ve been providing strategic assistance, technical support, analysis, training, and pushing our peers to center equity in the process and be clear about race, power, privilege. We will continue to do so. BISC is here for the long haul.
We know that Roe was the floor, never the ceiling for reproductive freedom. As we wrote in our statement: “direct democracy is an important and urgent path forward for those who seek to secure reproductive liberties and autonomy in their healthcare decisions and allow us an opportunity to re-imagine and build a world where reproductive justice is the framework we use not only for abortion, but also to provide affordable contraception, comprehensive sexual education, and to ensure people are free from sexual violence.” We will work to make this a reality.
When I took the helm of BISC four years ago, I knew we were in the fight for our lives. It is why I answered the call to leadership. And while the days ahead seem dark and demoralizing, the challenges we face will not deter me nor BISC from the vision that ballot measures become a tool for liberation and give power back to the People.
June. The sixth month. The midway point of the year. A time to reflect back on where we’ve been and where we are going. The month where summer begins bringing heat waves and longer days to frolic in the sun. This month marks the start of a period of celebrations and rest, ushering in hope and joy. And after the few months (and years) that have challenged our hearts and spirits, we need this period to get ready to build tomorrow’s world.
Last year, I wrote about my personal struggles with my queer and immigrant identities, which made me question my worth. I often speak and write about how raising a Black girl and working with Black women in the Movement have shaped me. All of this guides my leadership and vision for the world I am trying to build for our people. So it is fitting that in June we celebrate Pride, Immigrant Heritage, and Juneteenth. As we reach this midpoint in the year and reflect, centering and celebrating these communities is critical to move ourselves closer to equity, justice, and liberation.
In my own reflection about the challenges we face and what lies ahead in order for us to build tomorrow’s world – a world we have never seen but all people deserve – these words from Audre Lorde are on my mind: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
In June we celebrate and affirm communities who have been othered, who have been denied seats at tables, who were not included or provided the freedoms originally imagined in our democracy. As we demand to be seen and heard, to have rights long denied to us, to eliminate systems of oppression, it isn’t at the exclusion of others. We know that the world will be better and more beautiful if what seems to make us different is no longer a barrier to justice and liberation. By recognizing, accepting, and celebrating queerness, Blackness, and immigrant heritage we gain entry to a world where everyone thrives.
June also is important to me personally–it is a marker in my leadership journey at BISC. On June 25th, I will celebrate four years at BISC. Last month, I joked at BISC’s board meeting that if I was President, I’d be running my re-election campaign for my second term. Every year I have used this as an opportunity to showcase the progress we’ve made but the truth is second terms are incredibly challenging.
We’ve had a period of rapid growth these last four years at BISC, but I know moving forward my success as a leader will no longer be measured by how far we have come but whether I can keep moving us forward. And the conditions on the road ahead are less than ideal.
Given what we face in 2022 with our climate, our economy, with rights & freedoms, with safety & justice, and more, we face a cliff where all the gains we’ve made teeter on the edge. We are in scary and troubling times where we have a choice to make– on one side we can allow ourselves to become enveloped by the vast darkness beneath our feet.
If we do. Fear will rise. Scarcity mentality will cause fractions. Chaos will swirl around us. Doubt will whisper in our ears causing us to not look up from that precipice and see our North Star because they will tell us the world we seek to build is impossible to reach.
Or we can remember that progress is not linear, it is not stagnant.
It ebbs and flows. It evolves and changes.
Fear, scarcity, chaos, and doubt will not deter me from my vision that ballot measures are the love letters to our people that move us closer to liberation.
So I am making the choice to meet the challenges ahead, head lifted, and daring to be powerful.
I will be unapologetic and unafraid, denying the voices that tell me otherwise. I will celebrate the differences that make us great, dipping into the well of hope and joy.
I need all of you to join me, because I cannot do it alone.