AFROPUNK BK ACTIVISM ROW: ABORTION AF
September 23, 2019
Activism Row is where you’ll find all the warriors who represent and fight for ALL of us. We highlighted some of our fave orgs doing the damn thing.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Nicole. I’m from the Bronx, but currently call Harlem home.
Describe what you do and what your organization is about?
I’m the Director of Communications for a reproductive rights organization called Abortion Access Front (formerly Lady Parts Justice League). We advocate for abortion access, bodily autonomy and reproductve freedom, but what makes our approach so cool and unique is we often use humor and pop culture in our messaging as a way to inspire people to get involved and do something. We also work directly with independent clinics, providing all kinds of “selfcare” support like planting bushes at their entrance to block protestors or throwing the clinic staff a hot tub party (which we did in Cleveland). With all of the crap that’s happening, it’s also great to just take a time-out and celebrate abortion providers for all the great work they do.
As the Comms Director, I manage media relations for the organization. I pitch editors, producers, and writers to get them to tell the story of our organization and the work we do, which of course enhances our visibility and also our credibility. Getting AAF in Oprah’s “Favorite Things” issue of O Mag in 2017 is definitely a highlight for me. I’m also responsible for some of the partnerships and events that we do like working with AFROPUNK, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the WNBA, and the Women of The World Festival at The Apollo Theater. I love partnering with diverse organizations because reproductive freedom is connected to so many issues like race and class and criminal justice and we should all be working at those intersections on all kinds of platforms.
When was the moment you decided to become an activist?
I don’t know if I decided to be an activist as much as activism chose me. I was in college in a Political Science class actually and we were waiting on the Rodney King decision to come down. This was before Twitter so we actually had the radio on NPR. Like everyone else, I was shocked and enraged that LAPD, even with a video, got off and wasn’t found guilty for assaulting Rodney King. My professor, Stuart Clarke, a Black man, I’ll never forget him, used the entire class to discuss the decision and the history of white supremacy and positive and impactful uses of rage. He actually urged us to do a walkout and we did! Along with damn near the entire college, I marched from our school to the local Statehouse, which was like 20 miles. We were so fired up we didn’t feel exhausted until it was over and by then we had captured the attention of local media, politicians, and the community. It was exhilarating and transformative! Before then I had written about the innocence of The Central Park Five for class and had a Keith Haring “Free South Africa” poster and that was the extent of my activism. But after Rodney King, I was changed. I got off speaking out and being activated for a cause.
Activism is troubling the waters. Stirring up that bottom layer of sediment. Audre Lorde said, “Your Silence Will Not Protect You” and that’s true. Activism is speaking out, stepping up, and going against the grain. It can be participating in a rally in Times Square for Black Lives, but it’s also the electrician who helps the abortion clinic with their wiring (and mind you, gets paid for their services) in a conservative state where no one wants to offer their services for fear of losing business from anti-choice customers. Activism isn’t one thing.
What’s something fest-goers experienced at your booth? Where can folks find you?
At AFROPUNK, we were giving out gold uterus tattoos and had a great time getting folks to participate in our “Thank Bank” campaign where we have people write inspiring and uplifting messages on postcards that we will send to clinic staffers across the country. This year, in light of Toni Morrison’s transition, we used one of her quotes: “You are your own best thing!” Everyone loved doing this action because I guess it made them feel like they were doing something that would directly impact people on the frontlines of the repro movement. Our “Thank Bank” makes everyone who fills out a postcard an activist.
For more info about Abortion Access Front, check us out on Instagram and online. You can also find me on Insta. And if you’re in NYC, we host a hilarious “Feminist Buzzkills of Comedy” show at Union Hall in Brooklyn every 3rd Tuesday of the month.