Mayra Borunda is a Gardena High School and WLP alumna. She is a talented community leader and second year college student at Cal State University Long Beach. On the last week of March, Mayra decided to join our WLP retreat and has been kind enough to write about her experiences at the Thousand Pines campgrounds. The event was sponsored by the L.A. County Human Relations Commission's zerohour program.
The Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) was always a great source of support and growth for me. Being able to return to this space during the WLP Arrowhead retreat was both a heartwarming and inspiring. The retreat provided the space necessary to discuss many issues that affect young women of color without fear of being judged or reprimanded. In situations like this, it is always surprising to see how much everyone can learn from each other and our mentors, as well as how opinions shift and connection are made by simply discussing the issues that bind us women of color together.
One of the issues that stood out during the retreat was the discussion on abortion. As usual, this is a hot button issue with many strong opinions that lead to heated discussion. Initially some of the young women stated they felt abortion was “wrong” or “immoral,” and that women should be limited to how many abortions they can have. We were introduced questions such as “Why is our first impulse to police the female body? and "Why is no one trying to start a conversation about limiting men’s reproductive abilities?” It was incredible to see how some of these young women, including myself, suddenly realized that although many of us are pro-choice, we have been holding onto opinions that would ultimately make us lose control over our reproductive systems. The new perspective many of the girls gained after this discussion was obvious during our final conversation of the retreat where some stated that they felt more inclined to support the pro-choice movement, while others said they would likely consider abortion as a choice if they had an unplanned pregnancy.
Getting to know these young women over the course of a few days was very refreshing. In an era when women of color continue to be degraded and oppressed, hearing their desire to get educated and the strength behind their voices allowed me to see their potential to become extraordinary activists and leaders. Educating and mentoring young women became a passion of mine after joining WLP and participating in this retreat only reinforced that desire. The retreat was a success and I believe events and places like WLP give girls an opportunity at futures they choose instead of futures that are prescribed to them as urban young women of color.