Everything is Reproductive Justice—Reading Reproductive Justice in 2020

    One of the most optimistic leaders I worked with once said something along the lines of, “sometimes, having a book, even if you can’t finish it or haven’t started reading it, can be useful because you are aware of the idea simply by having the book.” With that quote, I urge you to consider the following books if you or someone you know is beginning to explore reproductive justice in 2020. 


1. Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts 

“Ms. Wooten ... stated that detained women expressed to her that they didn’t fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy.” 

This statement is a part of a 2020 complaint addressed to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Atlanta Field Office, the Irwin County Detention Center, and the Department of Homeland Security. Read “2020” slowly again. I don’t have the words to describe how I am personally triggered by the news of forced sterilization in my home state of Georgia.  Unfortunately, history is littered with forced sterilization. Dorothy Roberts’ book provides a thorough overview detailing the oppression of the autonomy and reproductive freedom of Black women. I want to say this book list is in no particular order of importance; but, given the 2020 context, Killing the Black Body, is the most important book to read right now. 

2. Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers

After you read, Killing the Black Body, think back on the number of times you have read “these are unprecedented times” to describe the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of the world in 2020. There is nothing unprecedented about the existence of health disparities and economic injustice. Moreover, COVID-19 did not create racial injustice. 2020 has exacerbated and intensified the focus on preexisting issues. Charlene Carruthers’ Unapologetic offers a multi-faceted approach to answering the question, “what do we do now?” Her approach applies a Black feminist queer lens for continuing to support the leaders we have and growing emerging leaders for 2020 and a post-COVID-19 world.

3. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free,” Combahee River Collective Statement.

That’s it, that’s the description. You simply need to read this text to grapple with the concept that Black women, as a marginalized group, are a necessary part of the future. How We Get Free happens to be the shortest book discussed in this blog.

4. Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundation, Theory, Practice, and Critique edited by Loretta Ross and et al.​

Radical Reproductive Justice is an essential reader for the reproductive justice movement and covers a wide range of intersecting issues that move its readers beyond a simplistic approach to reproductive justice. In its foreword, Dorothy Roberts -- the same Roberts that authored Killing the Black Body -- wrote, “the world needs radical reproductive justice.” Surviving, thriving, and transforming the issues present in 2020 and beyond calls for radical work.

5. One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson​

Voter suppression is a reproductive justive issue. 

Voter suppression is a reproductive justive issue.

Voter suppression is a reproductive justive issue.

I begin where I started -- with another example from my home state of Georgia: Voter suppression drew national coverage in Georgia's recent gubernatorial race. Again, voter suppression is a reproductive justice issue. Carol Anderson’s, One Person, No Vote breaks down the history of and modern day version of voter suppression. Understanding voter suppression is integral to dismantling it and pushing forward a reproductive justice agenda on the cusp of the 2020 presidential election and a Supreme Court justice vacancy. 


As an Oregon Trail millennial, I use the word “reading” in a broader sense more akin to “consuming.” Perhaps you are ready to purchase books on reproductive justice and know that ideas and concepts exist in the books but not in a place to read books. First, I challenge you to understand that in the “school of life” you do not need to finish every book you start, you can skip around and consume the chapters and parts of a book that pique your interest, and you can set a book down and come back to it. Yet, if you are still not in a place to read books, consider familiarizing yourself with other resources, including and the instagram account: sistersong_woc.




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