Photos by UTK Generation Action
Politically, Tennessee is a unique place to live. Especially today, when it seems that Tennessee is constantly being highlighted in the national news for the missteps made by the government. There is hardly a day that goes by where Bill Lee does not make a troublesome comment or the legislature falls deeper into an anti-democratic tradition.
In keeping with Tennessee’s current track record, it is not surprising that women's rights are once again under attack. Politicians have been emboldened in their rhetoric since the overturning of Roe v. Wade and it doesn't seem that it will slow anytime soon.
If those elected into office refuse to protect our rights, there is no one to be counted on but ourselves. This makes grass-roots organizations like Planned Parenthood Generation Action incredibly imperative.
Recently, Ayva Dorris sat down for an interview with Ablaze. Ayva is one of three senior members of the executive board. The purpose of the club is to advocate for reproductive rights and marginalized communities on campus.
“We want to let everyone know that pro-planned parenthood people still exist in Tennessee,” Dorris said.
And in Tennessee, there is a lot to be fought for; in a short amount of time: the planned parenthood was subject to an arson that burned it to the ground, Roe v. Wade was overturned and the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health was shuttered.
“We were overwhelmed for so long,” Dorris remarked.
This led to the executive members of PPAGC deciding to step back for a time.
Their hiatus, however, is now over and all members of Generation Action are ready to make a stand. Going to protests and demanding rights is scary, and is even more so when you are alone. Generation Action seeks to forge a space to meet like-minded people and find their group.
“There is power in numbers,” Dorris said.
PPAGC is now offering weekly meetings to be held each Monday at 6 pm. This is a place where everyone is welcome and all can share the struggles they face each day. Here, you will find catharsis and a community that will always support you.
Generation Action is active beyond weekly meetings and you may have seen the tabling events they spearhead. Here, they give out Planned Parenthood stickers, informational pamphlets and likely every type of condom you’ve ever heard of (and two more). In a state whose sex-ed program is focused primarily on abstinence, having access to these resources is incredibly important, especially in an environment where sexual encounters occur often.
Members of PPAGC are active community coordinators too, organizing and showing up to protests whenever they can.
“When you are a woman, trans or any minority, it is extremely scary to go to protests alone. Generation Action is a group that ensures there is always someone fighting alongside you,” Dorris said.
Dorris and the other two members of the executive board are graduating this year and “don’t want the club to die,” in the wake of their departure. They are seeking passionate and progressive people who seek a place to belong, where others who care can lift them up. This way, we all will rise together.
You can find UTK Generation Action on their Instagram at utkgenact.
Interested in joining? You can attend meetings Mondays at 6 pm in HSS 218, or join their Groupme at the QR code below. Remember all are welcome and this is a safe space!