I found myself.
Before the march, I had never blockwalked, called a legislator, or spoken in public. As the daughter of an immigrant, I was raised with the idea that I needed to be grateful and keep my head down, even in — especially in — the face of injustice. My mother never acknowledged the everyday injustices we struggled with. It was just how things were if you poor and Latino.
Latinos still have the lowest insured rate and along with other communities of color, face systemic barriers to getting the care they need and deserve. Texas mothers are dying at a higher rate than anywhere in the developed world. Black women in our state face the greatest risk of pregnancy- related and maternal death.
As I grew up in Dallas, moved to Austin for college, and then left for Colorado, I relied on Planned Parenthood for birth control and non-judgmental information about my sexual health. They were the first to raise the red flag that my family history of breast cancer meant I should begin clinical breast exams and mammograms earlier in life. But certain politicians are dead set on shutting down health centers, and blocking access to reproductive health care.
Now, I lead a community outreach program at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas called MUJER, Mujeres Unidas Por Justicia, Educacion Y Respeto. At the Women’s March, I approached the group from Planned Parenthood about volunteering and we talked about how it seemed more common for a 15-year-old Latina teenager to tell her parents she’s pregnant than to ask for their help getting birth control. Together, we built the MUJER program for Latina women to have a safe, non-judgmental space to talk about the issues that might be stigmatized or embarrassing in other environments. And we do it over coffee and pan dulce on Saturday mornings, like generations of women in our families have done.
This year, I have been to Washington, D.C. as a patient-advocate for Planned Parenthood, I’ve made dozens of trips to Austin to protest the Texas Legislature’s attacks on reproductive and immigrant rights, and I’ve spoken in front of thousands of people at rallies and demonstrations. I’ve befriended so many incredible, passionate people. Now, I call myself an activist.
All it takes is that first step. At the Women’s March in 2017, I raised my fist in solidarity with other women and as a promise to keep fighting for more. To fight for a Texas where everyone has access to health care, regardless of gender expression, race, income, sexual orientation, religious belief or immigration status — where every Texan has the opportunity to live a healthy and meaningful life. To fight for comprehensive sex education, affordable birth control, and access to safe legal abortion.
On the anniversary of the Women’s March, what are you fighting for?