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What if Planned Parenthood Didn't Exist?

This post is made possible with support from the Mission List. All opinions are my own. 

There was a time in my life when Planned Parenthood came through for me in ways that other places didnt. That time was in my teens when I became a teen parent myself. Instantly, I was off my mother's health insurance and signing up for things to help me as I raised a baby alone. Luckily, that didn't last too long because I attended college immediately following high school graduation and had health care through the university.


That didn't last long, either. At the time there was a battle about parents keeping their college-age children on their insurance and the universities were also fighting it. It was as if no one wanted us to have coverage.

Here we are in 2017 and that debate, about the right to health care, rages on still.


Having already gotten pregnant, I knew I needed birth control that would work for me as well as other health services that my college didn't (couldn't? wouldn't?) provide for me and a host of other young women. In fact, I remember that being a banner year for the number of girls enrolled at my university because we outpaced the boys in enrollment.

Think about that for a moment: more young women were going to be educated yet there was, in the political sphere, so much constant controlling over the very women who would be educated and in the work force soon. 

That's something I've never forgotten and it colors my politics to this day. 

In the small college town where I lived, I stopped in at Planned Parenthood one day after talking to a classmate. She knew I'd had a recent urinary tract infection that health service couldn't get to for the sheer volume of students who were ahead of me so she drove me uptown to Planned Parenthood where they got me in quickly, diagnosed me, and sent me on my way with the proper care. (And then we stopped at the grocery store for a lot of cranberry juice!)

After that, I used Planned Parenthood for a whole host of things I wouldn't have gotten without them.

Breast exams, pap smears, counseling about my sexual and reproductive health, and affordable birth control. These were all things I wasn't getting under my mom's insurance when they dropped me. They weren't things that I was getting elsewhere and I appreciated using the health care provider of my choice.

And yet...what if it didn't exist when I needed it?

What kind of pain would I have to endure with a UTI if Planned Parenthood wasn't there to care for me?

What dangers would I not have been able to avoid without a yearly pap smear from Planned Parenthood? I can tell you that I likely would not have continued to get those and found that they were abnormal to the point of having 2 surgeries in my life later on. 

When I did have that next baby, where would I have gotten prenatal care?

Where would my own daughter, after graduating college herself, have gotten affordable birth control if it wasn't for Planned Parenthood

It's devastating to think about all those things missing from my physical and reproductive health. These are things I cherish when talking to friends and family about the effects of the ACHA. 

College is when I started paying attention, not just to my own health and choices, but to politics and policies that aim at removing those choices. That's what the AHCA aims to do: remove choices and harm women. It would deny this to the 2.7 million men and women who use Planned Parenthood. 


Which is why it is SO important we all raise our voices and remind the senate that we stand with Planned Parenthood and against the AHCA. Here are some things I'm hoping you'll do:

Here's another fact for you: Planned Parenthood uses federal money for preventive healthcare. That means healthier adults, families, and children. 

But wait! Here are some more facts:

Here's an overview of services provided each year (in case you didn't know)

Here's how you can fact check some of those politicians (because some of us might need this)

Here are 4 groups that will be hurt the most by “defunding” (it's unconscionable, really)


You can help right now. Politics are personal and this one is really important if you care about, you know, the health of your fellow community members. Your friends. Your family. Yourself. 

Go here and join us in the fight ahead to protect us against the worst bill for women's health IN A GENERATION. The work starts today.



Right Decisions, Right Now

This is a sponsored post. Opinions are all mine. 

While I no longer work in a school setting I am no less interested in helping teachers and schools with good materials and contests. This here has both.

The Right Decisions, Right Now anti-smoking and anti-tobacco educational materials for teachers and schools (grades 5-9) is a really great campaign for this age group since they are at the highest risk of trying tobacco. Young people are most likely to try smoking for the first time between the ages of 11 and 15, or grades 6 to 10. I can attest to that with a group of friends in the woods when I was 12. I was such a chicken about it, too, and thought we were going to accidentally burn the whole forest down. THANKS, SMOKEY THE BEAR. I AM STILL TRAUMATIZED.


Anyway, if you're a school or classroom teacher who would like to enter a classroom contest then this is for you! First off, what's the prize? Good question. Thanks for asking. (Sorry. The teacher in me will never leave my body.) Four lucky teachers will EACH win one $500 Staples gift card to use for classroom supplies in the 2017/18 school year, plus they’ll each win a colorful, printed Cost of Smoking wall poster.

So, yeah, this school year is winding down to a close but if I know teachers, and I do, they are already thinking about what they're going to next next school year. 

Teachers spend a great deal of time working and re-working their lesson plans all through the year. I used to keep a journal full of ideas just for the purpose of saving brilliant ideas I had while teaching. (Ok, so I was probably the only one who thought they were brilliant.) They're also always looking for the following: 

free materials

easily accessible lesson plans


Because I love teachers so much here are some free things:

1 - Right Decisions Right Now has some anti-smoking resources for teachers. This one is especially cool because they've incorporated technology for those schools with Smart Boards. Check out these Smart Board activities and surveys. They're listed by grade level with topics like Making Healthy Choices and Choices and Consequences. You'll be asked for your zip code and then a list of school choices comes up. 

2 - For parents and teachers there are some  Right Decisions Right Now’s resources which include posters and brochures as well as videos. I can see guidance counselors and support staff such as social workers and school psychologists using the brochures to keep in their offices. Also, they include this in Spanish (MUY BUENO Y GRACIAS). The Pledge Forms would be a great addition to things like Red Ribbon Week if your school does that.

See all the free stuff? You can enter the contest here and it's SUPER EASY to fill out the entry form. That's the other thing educators want besides free; they want easy. Because their jobs most certainly are not.

Here are a couple of things to know about the contest:

• Classroom contest is open to United States residents who are currently employed full- or part-time as an educator by an accredited public or private K-12 school in the United States.

• Contest closes on June 30, 2017

• 4 randomly-drawn winners will each receive a $500 Staples gift card + a printed Cost of Smoking wall poster


Best of luck with the remainder of your school year, teacher friends. Well done if you've already made it through and have finished. Now, go enter this for the possibility of winning $500 worth of stuff from Staples. THINK OF ALL THE MARKERS YOU COULD BUY WITH THAT.


Being Black at School Gala

I'm so pleased with the work that's come out of Being Black at School. I admit that when I first started off on this venture that I wasn't sure where it would lead. Everyone has great ideas about education and some of them are entirely doable. Others, well, let me say here that I bit off a lot and I don't regret any of it. Most of what I'd like to work on in education comes from my 2+ decades of work in it and that includes undergraduate school and student teaching. 

What I noticed, right away, about education is how well we do some things and how poorly we do others. I am reminded, however, that working in education means working in a white institution that was built for white students and is lead, overwhelmingly, by white educators. This is problematic for so many reasons that I'm not even inclined to begin listing them since I've spoken so much about racism in the system for years. 

That said, I'm really proud of the undertaking of sustainability of Being Black at School. Not only did two team members, Joseph Cook and Colin McGinnis, join me right away but my friends and a few new supporters have looked at what we're trying to accomplish and asked, "How can I help?" This means the world to me because my voice is trusted in this space and although I could go on about teaching and learning, best practices, using data for assessment, assessment for learning, and so on... I am more passionate about the work to include multicultural curriculum and frameworks for cultural competency than I've ever been.

While in the system, it was hard to change it. I bumped my head a lot on the glass ceiling that is for women in the workplace but there's another glass ceiling for Black folks that made me look at some of my colleagues with the appropriate side-eye they deserved. The book I'm writing is now about 5,000 words short of being complete. That's been a labor of both love and disdain, I admit. Pouring over my journals about my experiences in schools isn't as cathartic as one might imagine. 

Some days, writing is just downright painful when you re-live your own life. 

That said, I have no book title yet but every speech I've given in the past month (and the travel and speaking engagements have been OFF THE CHARTS) leads me to the working title of I'm Telling On Errbody. It always gets a laugh, but the audience always laughs knowing that there are a lot of secrets in systems but I'm not one who will keep them. 

We are absolutely to blame for the school-to-prison pipeline. That doesn't happen in a vacuum and it's not some arbitrary "no one can tell what it looks like" mystery, either. There's a lot of missed opportunities to learn this and a lot of deflection and sometimes the simple things that seem innocent are, actually, nefarious. 

Like the time a group of teachers asked me to please contact parents for our upcoming parent teacher conferences and wrote a list of "academic" students and a list of "behavior" students. 

The behavior students were incredibly offensive since 80% of them were Black students. 

I hope my Chicago and Chicago-adjacent friends consider joining us for this night, hosted by Ernest Wilkins with performances by Scott Woods and Britt Julious. There are some prizes, awards, good food and drink, and music throughout the night. 


You can get your tickets here. Please consider joining us to celebrate the work of two women Doing the Work, Dr. Eve Ewing and Monica Haslip. 

Purchase t-shirts and mugs to support our work here.  

Details: April 1, 2017 at The Currency Exchange Cafe in Chicago. 


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