Posted by Ryan Morgan on March 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM
This blog has been excerpted from remarks made by Bonnie Adams Kapp at the "Sexual and Reproductive Health in the South: Understanding Diverse Investments and Moving Forward Under Health Care Reform" meeting in New Orleans this year.
I’ve been asked to share my own perspective both as someone who advocates for better sexual and reproductive health policies and as a funder heavily invested in sexual and reproductive health education and access to clinical services in a southern state. We invest around $2 million a year in these issues exclusively, just to give you some idea of our level of commitment to sexual and reproductive health in South Carolina. So I’d like to say a few words about the importance of resilience.
South Carolina is my home. I split my time between the state capitol in Columbia and Charleston on the coast. While Charleston and New Orleans are about 800 miles apart, these two cities and their people have a lot in common. Charleston was almost destroyed by an earthquake in the late 1800s. About a hundred years later, it barely survived a knock-out punch from Hurricane Hugo – our Hurricane Sandy. Charleston was resilient, though, and so over the last 24 years since Hugo, the city has remade itself into a top tourist destination.
New Orleans, as we all know, sadly was 80% underwater less than nine years ago. The resilience demonstrated by the people of Charleston --- as admirable as it was and is --- pales when compared to the resilience of the people of New Orleans and Louisiana. Just 6 months after Katrina, still-shell-shocked citizens managed to pull off a Mardi Gras parade on St. Charles. A half-dozen years later, New Orleans hosted the Final Four basketball tournament, and last year they hosted the Super Bowl and 9 million visitors. Now THAT’s real resilience.
We Southerners --- and by this I include those who were born or transplanted to this region like me --- are generally very resilient people. It’s not easy living and working in the South for many of us --- especially those of us who care about disenfranchised or marginalized people. Indeed, it’s not easy for those of us who care about the public’s health --- meaning everybody’s health equally – and those of us who believe that every citizen deserves unrestricted access to all the preventive health information they need to make informed decisions.
As advocates for sexual and reproductive health working in southern states WE have to be especially resilient. We have learned that through our experiences in South Carolina. However it takes people representing a variety of sectors and interests strategizing together and coordinating grassroots campaigns aimed at our legislatures. It's not easy work. But it is vitally important to the most vulnerable citizens of our states that we succeed, and to succeed we have to lock arms across sectors, stand strong and be resilient!
Show your Southern resilience – don’t let sex ed reform legislation wait another year. Send your representative an email today!