In her words Dusti Gurule is a product of the Chicano Movement. At a young age her parents instilled a “strong sense of social justice and advocacy.” That upbringing has led her to where she is today, Executive Director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).
We had the opportunity to chat with Gurule about what led her to head the Denver-based grassroots nonprofit that is led by and advocates for Latinas.
LVL: Tell us a little about the history of COLOR.
Gurulé: The Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and COLOR Action Fund (COLORAF) is a community-rooted non-profit organization that works to enable Latinas and their families to lead safe, healthy and self-determined lives by holding elected officials accountable to our issues and electing people who support our mission.
COLOR was founded in 1998 by a group of women who saw the need for voice in the reproductive health and rights movement - back then, however, the movement was solely referred to as the choice movement - that reflected the community that needed the services the most.
We value justice and equity for all people: creating an awareness of intersectionality and the ways it is used to either support or marginalize Latinas. We are community rooted and work to create intergenerational opportunity and leadership. We model sex positivity and support Latinas’ right to make their own decisions.
LVL: What drew you to COLOR and how did you become a part of it?
Gurulé: Growing up in the Chicano Movement and raised with a strong sense of social justice, I was immediately drawn to the organization and so when they were hiring their first paid staff position, in 2003, I immediately applied.
The organization was run by an all volunteer board for four years. Because of my ties to the Latino community, I was tasked with inserting the frame of reproductive rights and health into the framework of the Latino serving organizations at that time.
The issue of reproductive health had always been a siloed issue from other social justice issues like education and criminal justice reform. COLOR has been successful in changing the narrative to ensure that all issues impacting our families include reproductive health and well being because it impacts the entire family and community.
LVL: Speaking of changing the narrative, often reproductive justice can be confused with other causes such as reproductive rights and the pro-choice movement. How does the reproductive justice for which COLOR advocates differ?
Gurulé: Reproductive rights work is about the legal protections that exist and that we pursue through legislation and litigation in order to protect the right to access reproductive health care services. [That} work has been largely focused on abortion and contraception.
The term pro-choice has been used as a label for the work of reproductive rights organizations and the right to seek an abortion. It generally refers to political advocacy on behalf of access to abortion.
Reproductive justice is a three-tenet framework that provides a different approach to doing the work. Reproductive justice affirms that person has the right and should have the ability to decide when to become a parent; to decide to not become a parent; and to raise their children in a safe and healthy environment.
From a messaging and organizing standpoint, reproductive justice incorporates a broad range of issues and is meant to emphasize the intersections between different movements and communities to cultivate greater understanding and create a stronger movement.
LVL: What societal changes would you like to see in order to create a better future for Colorado’s young women?
Gurulé: As women of color leading the fight for liberation in our state, we remain committed to working toward a future Colorado that honors our full humanity and experiences, and maintains health care as a human right that encompasses a full range of preventative, health and healing services.
We are calling for policies that close gaps in access to the full range of reproductive health care, including comprehensive sex education and abortion.
We can do much more to eliminate the financial barriers that low-income families face.
We can do much more to eliminate the barriers that young people face to lead safe and health lives. COLOR & COLOR Action Fund are committed to continuing this work.
To support the causes of COLOR and COLOR Action Fund or to get involved visit www.colorlatina.org.