Finding My Story of Self Through Planned Parenthood
Five years ago, my mother became the Senior Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. I didn’t know much about Planned Parenthood back then and understood very little about what they did, I don’t even think I knew they provided abortion services nor did I know exactly what abortions were. I vaguely remember driving into the Planned Parenthood driveway and seeing the graphic pictures on the protesters’ posters. But I remember my mom sitting down with my sister and I one day; I must’ve been in third grade and about nine years old, she explained all the pictures and emphasized that some people don’t want to have babies or aren’t ready to have them at the time they become pregnant; and that some people are against abortion as a choice. Before that, I’ve always lived in a very liberal bubble, meaning that I was never exposed to the opposition and the images and protesters came as a shock to me.
Fast forward to late Fall of 2015, my mom is no longer working at Planned Parenthood. I, now a freshman at college was looking for a Winter internship. My mind goes back to the days when I discovered the Planned Parenthood office waiting for my mom to wrap things up and head home, to the days when I did a very short internship here during a high school summer. I remember all the amazing people I had come in contact with while my mom was working here. I think back to how my social media news feed was full of articles about Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights. As my mind went crazy with nostalgia, I came to the conclusion that I should apply to be an intern at Planned Parenthood and I did.
Three months later my amazing internship is coming to a close. I’ve learned new terms and movements such as the Reproductive Justice Movement and Story of Self. The Story of Self sticks with me because it showed me a new level of vulnerability. The authors of the stories are able to share a part of themselves with an audience of strangers and have complete uncertainty around what will happen with it. I admire this. Reflecting on all the stories I have heard and read I started thinking on my own story, particularly when I started to apply for colleges. I found myself in an uncomfortable position because I’m a quarter Mexican. My grandpa on my mom’s side came over during the Mexican-American War. But I feel as white as Snow White even though my Mexican heritage is a huge part of me. I love Mexican food and get excited every time I hear even a little bit of Spanish because that was a part of my upbringing. But while my sister (who also applied to colleges at the same time I did) did check the Hispanic box and my mom before me did the same thing, I couldn’t bring myself to check the box. I’ve never experienced any sort of racial profiling or feel connected in that way to my Mexican side and felt that it was not fair use my miniscule heritage to get into college for two reasons.
My first reason is that I feel that people should be judged less on their skin color or heritage and more about the knowledge that they have and what they can bring to the community. I believe that when reading college applications skin color should not even be a part they consider, but more on the person’s essays. I don’t believe that we should be singled out and judged.
My second reason is that I feel that I don’t deserve it because I haven’t lived a hard enough life. My best friends in high school were all White and most of them chose to take French over Spanish as their foreign language class. There was very little diversity in the suburb of Guilford and I never really interacted with diverse communities, I mostly chose to stay in my comfort zone and with my average White friends. I’ve never faced any racial inequality based on the color of my skin and I feel that the scholarships should go to people that have struggled more or that have been wrongly profiled. That is something I think is fantastic about the Reproductive Justice Movement; I appreciate that the movement is striving to eliminate discrimination of skin color from getting any kind of reproductive help.
During my internship I came to realize that Planned Parenthood is more than an abortion provider. I also realized that everyone that I found myself working closely with at Planned Parenthood is passionate in making sure that all communities feel safe and cared for. I learned – through stories and interactions — that Planned Parenthood makes sure that every patient is afforded any services they need from helping the patient get insurance if they don’t have any to making sure that they are informed on what is happening politically. Women should always have the right to their own bodies and if for some reason they don’t wish to bring a child into this world, it is her choice and only her choice. Whatever her decision is Planned Parenthood is always there to help.
The author is a Generation Action Intern at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.