By: Kryston Skinner, TEA Fund Organizer
Last weekend, thanks to support from Progress Texas, I was able to attend the Netroots Nation 2016 conference in St. Louis. I’m back in Texas feeling inspired and ready to take action. We touched on many issues this week at Netroots, including Black Lives Matter and abortin access. It was amazing, heartbreaking and informative, sometimes all at once.
As TEA Fund’s grassroots organizer, my goal is to constantly learn new ways to mobilize our movements. Luckily, Netroots offered multiple grassroots and organizing panels, my favorite being The Latest Civic Engagement: How Tech Can Supercharge Your Grassroots Operation. This panel offered an exploration of how traditional cornerstones of grassroots movements can be accomplished more quickly and effectively than ever before. They demonstrated the latest technologies in civic engagement and how those tools can help organizers collect powerful data that can then be used to drive growth, participation, fundraising and awareness while measuring the impact of our efforts. This panel was very informative. I feel like we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to organizing in our community around abortion in Texas and I will use these tools to make that a reality.
Of course, I was so excited to see the executive director of National Network of Abortion Funds, Yamani Hernandez, speaking alongside partners from All Above All and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. As an All Above All member organization and a member fund of NNAF, TEA Fund looks up to the amazing efforts of these organizations as we attempt to fund abortion and build power. I feel so honored to be in a movement with these powerful leaders.
Out of all of the conferences I have attended outside of Texas, Netroots has had the most amazing panels around abortion and reproductive justice. I was so happy to see a talk led by Sasha Bruce with NARAL highlighting that the 2016 Democratic platform is most progressive yet when it comes to abortion and reproductive freedom. It mentions the word abortion, tackles that abortion access is a privilege, and how candidates in the past did not address low income women or women of color, which is a major concern for our organization. She discussed how not talking about abortion in code is revolutionary. I left this panel feeling reconnected to the movement and reproductive justice. Sasha offered some great insight on the upcoming election and how abortion is and should be one of the main talking points.
Intersectionality is at the center of our movement, which is why I attended From Selma to Ferguson: Voting Rights in the Digital Age. The panelists looked at the discriminatory voter suppression laws nationwide, what’s being done to fight back, and what it means to fight for voting rights in the age of the Black Lives Matter Movement. They discussed both defensive strategies that protect voters and offensive strategies that seek to secure the right to vote and increase voter turnout. This important intersectional lens for reproductive justice makes us focus on strategic communications and how to push back against harmful narratives that support voter suppression in communities of color.
This conference was truly enlightening and insightful, it gave me the opportunity to surround myself with thousands of bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, and grassroots organizers and activists from across the country. Thank you Netroots Nation and Progress Texas!