Hey Take Rooters! Check out this interview written by one of your fellow Take Rooters. It focuses on the experiences of our friends from Texas at the 2012 Take Root conference. Hope you enjoy!
Happy New Year Take Rooters!
To celebrate the New Year we interviewed past conference attendees to see what they are excited about for this upcoming conference. At the 2012 Take Root conference a group of around 30 Texans participated, mostly coming from the North Texas area. Their attendance was a huge surprise and their voices aided in the discussion of reproductive justice organizing in red states. This year, Texas organizers plan on bringing more individuals in order to take part in their favorite Southern conference.
Brooke, Sarah, and Maryam come from South, Central, and North Texas, bringing together all of their varying identities and perspectives on participating in reproductive justice work in North Texas.
Why do you think having this conference is important?
Sarah: It’s a red state perspective on reproductive justice, which I think is really important. Having the reproductive justice conference in the framework of living in a red state is different than anything I had ever read or heard of. I didn’t even know that that was happening, or that was a thing that happened.
Maryam: That there was solidarity, in like a concentrated effort.
Sarah: When I found out about the conference it was after I worked with clinic defense and clinic escorting in Ft. Worth. Going through that experience and learning what anti choice protesters were like in Texas, and then going to Oklahoma and having other people sharing similar experiences gave me a hope and inspiration. There were other people doing really awesome things in other places.
How did you find out about the conference?
Brooke: Through the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at University of North Texas, who had great officers that year and found out about this really radical conference in Oklahoma.
Sarah: We would hear about conferences and they were all so far away. When we found out that this really awesome conference was happening in Norman Oklahoma, a 2 to 3 hour drive from us, of course we were going to pile up in our cars and drive because having that so close to us was comforting.
Tell me about some of your experiences from last year. What did you learn? What did you take from it?
Maryam: My highlight for the Take Root conference was the discussion panel where we talked about birth doulas. It was really accessible and people seemed personable; it did not seem like such a far out concept. I like the way that there was common ground because of our background.
Sarah: All of them were really great, I felt like I was learning so much the entire time. One that really stuck out at me was the spirituality, faith, and reproductive justice. I didn’t know other people were having that conversation, so I was very excited that people were talking about this and that there were larger organizations working on a national level. When we did the break out sessions, I went to the student-organizing group and that was really good because we got to talk to other students organizing on their campuses. I remember we talked about Justice For All coming and I never had that conversation with people from red states about how hard it is when organizations like that come to your school.
At the end of the conference, organizers from Texas and Oklahoma unite to take a solidarity photo.
Brooke: I am going to second Sarah on the spirituality, faith, and reproductive justice panel because it was the first time I felt comfortable talking about how I am a Christian who is really adamant about reproductive justice. Of all the conferences I’ve been to, I did not have to leave the Mason-Dixon line to get to this really, radical place. This conference is respectful to peoples identities, there were critiques of capitalism – all happening in the South and it was just beautiful. To be around people from the south, to be around all these radical people, I was really happy to have the opportunity to go.
What are some differences between this conference and other conferences that you’ve been to?
Sarah: When I went to Take Root, I felt that somehow those resources were more tangible.
Maryam: A lot of resources are not located in the South or close by. The ones we got from Take Root have personal accounts of them, the distance and the familiarity of the hostility.
Brooke: Beautiful, openly queer people. Some other conferences I went to never mentioned class, never mentioned any thing out of the gender binary. It was refreshing to go to Take Root and to know that this was a conference that it wasn’t big and flashy; it was a place where you saw more of a movement.
Maryam: More community.
Brooke: I saw a safe space. I felt like I wasn’t going to be judged. That’s supposed to be how a conference should be and that’s how you’re going to get things done.
When you talk about community. Do you feel like you met a lot of people and made adequate networks and friends for future organizing at Take Root?
Maryam: I feel like I can call people I met from Take Root more so than other conferences, it just feels more familiar and welcoming.
Sarah: When I went to this other conference I felt like I was in queer Disneyland. It’s great and a beautiful thing, but when I saw these queers of Norman, it just seemed to me really brave.
Maryam: It was stronger. In the Northeast it was just like “this is how it is”, which is awesome, I wish that’s how it is. But with Take Root participants, they are working in the South together and all queer together. It seems stronger and more of an accountable community because it’s so small.
What would you like to see in this year’s conference? What are you excited about?
Sarah: Ugh, Loretta Ross!! Also, I’m excited to go to more panels about the environment and reproductive justice. I think I’m going to try to go to the panels that I know least about because last year I learned so much.
Maryam: I’m looking forward to discussion and being more vocal. I think the set up of the conference was genuine and accessible. I didn’t think they made people feel dumb for asking questions, and sometimes these conversations are so academic, but I found it to be more accessible.
Would you say that take root has aided in your radicalization?
Sarah: Yes, I would like to say that I was on this tipping point and Take Root made me take this beautiful free fall down.
YESSSS FOREVER. Blog post I wrote for Take Root.