As many of you know, last week the Supreme Court issued a dangerous ruling that allows family owned and closely held corporations to opt-out of providing contraception coverage through employee health insurance packages. I am incredibly disappointed with this decision, and at Young Women United we have appreciated the many compelling and articulate responses shared this week explaining the ruling, laying out implications for women of color, and examining the decision from a faith perspective.
Today I’m writing to share reflections on what this decision means to me, as a working mom and a crafter. While this ruling is deeply concerning, I see ways to use the Hobby Lobby decision to improve our shared efforts in working towards reproductive healthcare for all people.
Hobby Lobby and other for profit corporations can now claim a religious identity, and legally make decisions about whether or not their employees can access contraceptive coverage based on their corporate/religious values.The bodies of women of color have been exploited and disregarded for too long; this ruling only affirms that those who own and oversee the economy and job market will continue to make decisions about our bodies and lives. As a working mama I know many like me are doing our best everyday to lead healthy lives and take care of our families but finding it impossible to fully do so when we are denied the healthcare we need. Hobby Lobby could have opted out of the Affordable Care Act altogether, but chose not to because they claim to care about their employees’ healthcare needs. True health care doesn’t mean picking and choosing which areas of our bodies deserve to be covered by insurance and which do not.
As someone who works to improve access to reproductive health and rights- this was a hard week. Within the overwhelming response to the Hobby Lobby decision I couldn’t help but notice some opportunities for our movement to better approach these issues. At Young Women United we believe that all communities deserve accurate information and honest communication about an issue at hand. From our work, we’ve learned that when you respect someone enough to speak to them with integrity, everyone will walk away with a more complex understanding of an issue. People deserve to know what this decision means; our communities need real information we can all understand.
Focusing our energies on bad bosses erases the gigantic issue at hand, that a corporation can now claim and have the right to exercise religious liberty. The idea of a ‘bad boss’ points blame to a person while the issue is really about enforcing an institutional power that allows for profit corporations to shape the overall health and well-being of families. When reactions seem based in political values and not real life impacts (ie: keep your rosary off my ovaries), too many walk away without understanding what is really at stake.
Finally, as a community organizer that works alongside New Mexico families everyday, I have been offended by the language and tone used to ridicule those who craft and may shop at Hobby Lobby. I need respite and healing in order to fully engage in community organizing; my healing comes from crafting. Put me in front of craft supplies- from beading to watercolors or scrapbooking and the healing process begins. I have found that using my hands and the creativity inside of me is exactly what I need to bring needed energy into every new day.
Being an activist and a crafter are not always mutually exclusive, especially for communities of color. Many communities of color have used art as a means of healing, building community and even earning extra money to care for their families for many generations. I come from a hard working New Mexican family who creates and learns crafts together which have helped provide for our family. In a society that is constantly pushing people of color away from accessing the information, education and resources we need to live healthy lives, crafting is key to my strength and resiliency.
It’s hard to hear allies in our movements who belittle and stereotype those who craft, not recognizing how art has been a form of resistance and justice for communities of color, historically and still today. I get it- you’re mad at Hobby Lobby, we all are. But enough of throwing crafters under the bus to try and get a point across. Many who shop at Hobby Lobby are individuals that provide for their families through crafting. If we really want to create change, it is going to take all of us. We have a lot of work ahead of us and I’m proud to be at an organization that recognizes all my identities and those of our broader communities.
[author] [author_info] Esperanza Dodge is Young Women United’s Mamas Justice Organizer and a member of their Luna Sagrada collective. Stay tuned for more blogs about birth and parenting justice. Esperanza’s bio can be found here. [/author_info] [/author]