Supporting and Centering People of Color Initiative

The realization of reproductive justice depends on how people of color are centered in the movement.

Reproductive justice cannot be achieved without racial justice. The Supporting and Centering People of Color Initiative allows If/When/How to explicitly demonstrate our commitment to the foundational principles of reproductive justice, both externally and internally. The Initiative has three main goals:

  1. highlight the voices and experiences of people of color in all aspects of If/When/How;
  2. create an organizational environment, curriculum, and programs that center people of color; and
  3. provide context, education, and support for white co-conspirators to recognize and leverage their privilege, as well as understand and define their roles in the Initiative and reproductive justice movement.

Link Library

As the If/When/How team has built out our SCPOC programming for people of color and for white co-conspirators, we have found the following readings and materials helpful →

Why White Co-Conspirators?

If/When/How uses the term white co-conspirator instead of ally. That’s because allyship is generally passive. An ally says “I support you” but may never move beyond passivity and into action. On the other hand, a co-conspirator says “I support you, I’m here with you, I’m rolling up my sleeves, what do I need to do?” Racism is infused into every system and institution in this country, and dismantling racist structures, policies, and practices requires much more than passive support or acknowledgement.

Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matterexplains“The thing I don’t like about the word ally is that it is so wrought with guilt and shame and grief that it prevents people from doing what they ought to do. Co-conspiracy is about what we do in action, not just in language. It is about moving through guilt and shame and recognizing that we did not create none of this stuff. And so what we are taking responsibility for is the power that we hold to transform our conditions.”

If/When/How understands the legal implications of the terms co-conspirator. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, conspiracy is,

A combination or confederacy between two or more persons formed for the purpose of committing, by their joint efforts, some unlawful or criminal act, or some act which is innocent in itself, but becomes unlawful when done by the concerted action of the conspirators, or for the purpose of using criminal or unlawful means to the commission of an act not in itself unlawful.

This definition is one of the reasons we think this term is so powerful! While not literally illegal, working together to dismantle white supremacy is a significant disruption of the status quo. Further, given the stereotypes that equate Blackness and brownness with criminality – and the racist institutions and systems that actualize those ideas – it is imperative that white folks put their bodies, liberty, and safety on the line in the quest for racial justice.