Posted on July 12, 2017
The Power of Organizing
There’s no doubt that we are living in unprecedented times in terms of the level of attacks from the Trump administration against women’s health and Latinx folks. But we’re also living in a time of powerful grassroots resistance emerging across the country – and week after week, we can see how well that resistance is working. That’s why I’m so proud of our long-time activism work with CREDO and thankful for their members who are among – and continue to be – some of Planned Parenthood’s most loyal supporters.
As the deputy program manager for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Raíz program, I see the power of this resistance every day. Since the Trump administration took office, people have been marching in the streets, flooding town halls, and calling their members of Congress so much that they actually shut down the Congressional switchboard.
But that power didn’t start when Trump took office. Beginning in 2014, the Raíz organizers have worked to build sustainable, community-organizing teams as members of and in partnership with the Latinx community. Raíz began as an unparalleled effort to sign the Latinx community up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and I’ve seen firsthand in my work helping uninsured communities how critical it is – especially Latinx folks who saw the largest reduction in uninsurance rates among any demographic group. Organizing worked – it helped make sure people were healthier, and began to help break down barriers to accessing quality, affordable, and accessible health care that existed in the Latinx community.
Now, all that progress and more is at risk. Women of color have been in the center of political attacks since day one of this administration. Together with Congress, the Trump administration has launched some of the worst attacks on women, especially women of color, and their access to health care in a generation – whether it’s through executive orders, a dangerous budget or Trumpcare, which would kick millions off of their health insurance and Medicaid, and prohibit millions more from getting care at Planned Parenthood.
The impact of these attacks, if they succeed, would be devastating. Millions of people rely on Planned Parenthood for health care every year, and one-fifth of them – nearly 500,000 – are Latinx. Among people who access Medicaid, 31 percent identify as Hispanic, and over one-quarter (27 percent) of Latinas of reproductive age are enrolled in the Medicaid program. If they were prevented from accessing Planned Parenthood because of “defunding” legislation, Latinx patients may have no other place to go for the services Planned Parenthood provides.
In addition, Planned Parenthood is proud to see patients regardless of their immigration status, and are one of the only places undocumented communities can turn to for care. Given that the majority of undocumented immigrants in this country are Latinx, “defunding” legislation would have a disproportionate impact on the Latinx community.
Latinxs often lack access to affordable health care, and are the least likely to have opportunities to access it. For our community, going to Planned Parenthood is not about making a political statement but accessing the health care we desperately need.
I can relate: growing up, my family and I relied on Medicaid to access health care. As a child in Mexico we had limited access to health services, so when we migrated to the United States, having the opportunity to get health insurance meant our whole family could be healthy. But that is not the case for everyone. Latinas in the U.S. face more barriers to accessing health care than non-Latina white women, and a greater percentage of Latinas (20 percent) are uninsured than women of any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
It is no wonder why more women are now following in the long-held tradition of women of color and leading the resistance. Because of the outpouring of public opposition, many of Trump’s most dangerous policies have been stopped in their tracks, in large part because of the leadership from communities of color. Make no mistake – our voices, when we raise them all together, are incredibly powerful.
That’s why I’m going to keep organizing – and why you should too. This fight is still far from over, and it means getting up and doing the work every day in order to keep making a difference.
But I know it’s worth it. We’re fighting for health care – no matter what. No matter your immigration status, how much money you make, where you’re from, who you love, or your gender identity. We are fighting for a future where women, especially women of color, don’t have their most basic health care needs treated as expendable.
That’s the America I want to live in, and I think it’s worth fighting for. I hope you’ll join me.
Go to istandwithpp.org to learn how you can get involved in Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s fight to protect health care.
Diali Avila is the Deputy Manager of Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Raiz Program, which is the organization’s national effort to work with the Latinx community on fights for reproductive health, sex education and access to care. Planned Parenthood is a long time partner of CREDO, and CREDO members have voted to donate more than $3 million to Planned Parenthood since 1986. To learn more about who we fund and how we distribute our donations, visit credodonations.com.