The Netroots Nation conference is the largest annual conference of progressive activists in the country, and as anyone in the movement can tell you, there are a lot of issues that we work on. So it’s no surprise that Netroots has a lot of panels and trainings on a lot of topics. There is strong union representation, people from civil rights organizations, LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations, as well as a lot of representation from women’s rights organizations. Indeed, my main dilemma was choosing between them all. The labor caucus at the same time as the panel on mansplaining? What’s a feminist union member to do?
I’ll tell you where I was on Thursday morning though, moderating a panel on Millennials of color and reproductive justice with some truly great panelists. I was joined by Mari Schimmer with Choice USA, Travis Ballie with NARAL, Atima Omara-Alwala with the DC Abortion Fund and the Young Democrats of America, Aimee Thorne-Thomsen with Advocates for Youth, and Jessica Gonzales-Rojas with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. As research from Advocates for Youth will tell you, the Millennial generation (roughly speaking anyone born between the late 70s/early80s and the early 2000s) is more diverse, more connected, better educated, and more liberal. In other words, they are very much the future of the progressive movement. What’s more – and better for us – Millennials believe in government. They believe that government can – and should – help its citizens. They want their government doing things like providing not just health care to all, but ensuring that contraception is covered by health insurance. And even though some Millennials may be personally uncomfortable with abortion, they still believe that each woman has the right to decide for herself, and that abortion providers should be available in their communities. And as the reproductive justice framework suggests, they care about not just thr right to abortion, but access. They also care about how reproductive health and rights relate to other issues like immigration, poverty, the wage gap, and race. If you’re having flashbacks to January and that those articles published around Roe v. Wade’s anniversary about how young people don’t care about Roe, forget it. Millennials do indeed care about abortion. It’s just that they also care about a lot of other things, and they get how it’s all connected. If this panel and the discussion we had is any indication, things really are getting better for progressives and the values we hold.
Netroots has announced that next year’s conference will be in Detroit. I highly recommend going. It’s four days of nonstop progressive energy, from panels and keynotes to roundtable discussions, caucuses, and of course parties (Congressman Mike Honda not only attended the SEIU karaoke party, but sang).
Really wishing you could have attended? While there is no recording here of Rep. Honda, there are a lot of recordings of the panels, keynotes and other addresses – including ours. And fellow panelist Mari Schimmer wrote a great piece on young people at Netroots – or lack thereof – for Choice USA’s blog.
I hope to see you next year in the Motor City!
*photo credit: Sara Alcid