Taylor Crumpton

Taylor Crumpton is a Master’s of Social Work Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. She is studying macro social work practice and working with Project HOME, a Philadelphia non-profit organization empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, employment, health care, and education, in their Advocacy and Public Policy Department.

During her time as a graduate student at Penn, she assists in the Gender and Sexuality Policy Lab which reconceptualizes policy work across public and private institutions to inform the lives of people experiencing marginalization in society and the housing economy–particularly LGBTQ youth who are most at risk.

Through her involvement with Young People For, she collaborated with a team of fellows on an amicus brief for the Whole Women’s v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case, and was featured as a speaker for Center for Reproductive Rights Stop The Sham rally during the oral arguments of Whole Women’s. Her writing has been featured in Glamour, The Guardian and Teen Vogue.

Details

    Issues Areas:
  • Racial Justice

Campus: Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX

Fellowship Class Year: 2015

Taylor Crumpton's Blog Posts

A Reflection on Whole Woman’s Health

I’ve spent a majority of my life living in the Lone Star State.

My high school mascot was a cowboy, I have a deep love of Whataburger and Blue Bell ice cream, and I can’t go one day without seeing a Ford F-150 driving on the road next to me. I attend school in West Texas, where my classmates go two-stepping on Thursdays and attend the fair and rodeo for fun. Though I’m a proud native Californian, I’ve grown to harbor a deep love for Texas within my heart. I know when I move back out of Texas for graduate school, a small part of me will long for Texas and her inherent ability to deep fry everything, from butter to Coca-Cola. Because I love Texas, I deal with her legacies of institutional oppression of marginalized communities, and systems of white supremacy and privilege that infect everything from our education system to our state government.

Texas has given the nation everything from a series of conservative elected officials to the first abortion case of the 20th century, Roe v. Wade. Isn’t it fitting that two most significant abortion rights cases of the 20th and 21st century (Roe v. Wade and Whole Woman’s Health) would come out of Texas?

Roe v. Wade deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution. Since this case, there have been several anti-abortion laws implemented by conservative legislators to circumvent the Wade decision and restrict abortion access. Three years ago, Wendy Davis, sporting pink tennis shoes, filibustered against HB2, an anti-abortion bill that mandated abortion providers to meet the same requirements as ambulatory surgical centers and requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to local hospitals. HB2 resulted in the closings of several clinics in the state due to the expenses of upgrading abortion clinics into ambulatory surgical centers. Further, with the majority of Texas hospitals being faith-based and anti-choice, it proved difficult for abortion providers to gain admitting privileges.

After HB2, Texas reverted back to archaic times for people with uteri seeking abortion access. At my college, where you can get expelled for being pregnant, students won’t even utter the word “abortion” unless you are demonizing individuals seeking the treatment or are a member of the university’s pro life student organization. I attend a school where the nearest abortion provider is hundreds of miles away, resulting in individuals taking matter into their own hands through self-induced abortions or carrying until term. I’ve grown with friends who spent their weekends during middle school protesting and praying with their church outside of abortion clinics in Dallas. I’ve seen my friends come to school with the words LIFE written on red tape covering their mouths, carrying plastic fetuses with a card explaining their silence over the countless “lives lost to abortion.”

This year, I lived with the president and treasurer of my university’s anti-choice organization. Throughout our time together, I forced myself through difficult conversations,  “what if the baby they aborted had the cure to cancer?”, and watched as she filled our home with flyers, pamphlets, and cups with the slogan “Smile, because you weren’t aborted.” I witnessed her recite information, claiming that abortion is racist, and saying that social justice begins in the womb. She threw around  false statistics and anti-abortion propaganda that caused me at various times to call members of my Young People For family to vent and self-care.

I’m blessed to be raised by a mother who taught me about abortion at a young age.  She courageously shared with me her abortion story, and how it was the only way she could escape the inter-generational poverty present in her family during 1980’s Central Texas to start her life in Dallas. As I began to start dating in high school, my mother would warn me before every date that she would drive me to the nearest Planned Parenthood afterwards. In high school, I would ask each partner, “you know I believe in abortion right?”. Even as  I enter my senior year of my undergraduate education, I make sure my mentees know, “you know I’ll drive you to the nearest abortion provider, right?”

Sadly, the rhetoric and climate in Texas regarding abortion is a closed conversation in which older, upper-class, white males make decisions about people with uteri without engaging in conversations with individuals seeking life saving care and analyzing the societal factors that led individuals to seek abortion.

I’ve witnessed the evolution of individuals in Texas during this Whole Woman’s case. I’ve seen college students utter the word “abortion” in a positive light and become open to the idea of it being a good thing instead of something to be hated and prayed about. I’ve heard stories from individuals who would be courageous enough to have one, despite the fact that they come from a long generation of preachers. This case has begun to shift the rhetoric and climate in Texas in a positive direction.

Yet we have to remember that the fight is not over, the war is not over, and that there are countless individuals who are still without access to abortion care. I encourage everyone to become involved with organizations that are working towards abortion access for all.

Thank you to Young People For, for supporting me throughout this whole process with the Whole Women’s case,  from being a part of our Courts initiative, to empowering me to represent the organization during the Center for Reproductive Rights rally.

 

Let’s Get In Formation

Folks that hold historically marginalized identities operate and live in spaces where we have to be bold and uncomfortable in order to enact change in our communities.

We cannot be silent because our silence is a surrender to our impending death.

We are the people on the frontlines, the first ones hit, and the last ones to go home.

There are some days when I lay in my bed and wish that I could fall back asleep and not be “woke” to the prejudices and discrimination that I face.

 

I wish that I could just walk around the park, and ignore the way people clutch their purses when they walk by me. I wish I could just drive to my grandmother’s country home  and not be reminded of Sandra Bland and the countless others black and brown bodies that met their creator on those Texas country backroads. I wish I could just watch my little brother play in his soccer game and not question whether the security guard at the park is there to protect him or whether he might take my brother’s life to maintain the community that sees him as a threat.

Sadly, I cannot live that life. We, as change agents cannot live that life because that is not our reality.  We can, however, enjoy life, though we are constantly in battle. We can laugh, sing, dance, travel, and love. We are capable of sculpting the world into a harmonious place of peace, love and equity. Unfortunately, most times I wake up and have to face the heavy weight of the battle to be won.

I remind myself that I am not alone in my efforts. That I am in battle with countless others, advocating and fighting for change in their communities. That I’m alive because of the countless advocates, activists, and change agents who woke up and kept fighting though to victory, even when winning seemed hopeless with the physical and mental chains that trapped them.

Us, the changemakers, are a part of a beautiful lineage of generations who enacted change. And it’s our time to determine how our generation is going to sculpt the world in our image. I believe in this generation of changemakers, because I’ve been given the opportunity to be in community with them through Young People For. I would not be the bold activist I am today without my mentor and Young People For family.

The Importance of Self Care in the Movement

This weekend, my mother came to visit me to check-in after having being on the receiving end of numerous late night phone calls from me where I worked through frustration and anger at the disinterest of students of color on my campus towards progressive organizing and advocacy on campus. In the midst of my venting, my mother advised me to not put myself in the spotlight all the time. As a student organizer, I am a member or president of the few small progressive student organizations on campus, and I spend my time emailing and scheduling meeting times with on-campus decision makers about how we can encourage students to vote on campus and what strategies might look like for students advocating the worth of black lives at small private christian universities in the South.

While in town, my mother made me lay in bed for hours, and detach myself from the social justice world I call home. She removed Between the World and Me from my bedside, muted the conscious hip hop music, and refused to let me watch another documentary about the Black Panther Party. For the first thirty minutes, I was fine and spent time focusing on the soul records I had plastered on my walls, admiring the embroidery and jewelry on Al Green’s pants.

The remaining amount of time, I started to think about my life after undergrad.

What graduate school I would attend?

Where my first job would be at?

What my children will look like….will I even be able to have children?

As soon as this question arose, I couldn’t stop picturing my little brother as Tamir Rice being shot for nothing more than being a child of color. I felt the immediate urge to contact my little brother to see if he was okay, to protect him from the world he is living in, and to shield him from the evils that are after him. The more my mind began to think and calculate  ways to protect him, the more my body began to tense. I felt adrenaline being released into every muscle and fiber in my body, while my mind searched for any incidents of state violence that had been committed against young boys of color in his school district, and my chest began to tighten. I found that my breath and life were being sucked out of me as I began to realize that no matter what I did or said, no matter how much I protested, advocated, or rallied, I would not be able to protect him from the American reality of losing Black lives to state violence.

I reached for the inhaler situated near my bed side, took three breaths, and started to pray. I prayed for my brothers and sisters who are with God in Heaven right now. I prayed for my future children, and prayed that they will grow up in a world better than my own. I prayed for the continuance and growth of my family. I prayed for my Young People For family and for the support systems that the Lord continues to bless and use for his kingdom. I prayed that the Lord withdrew the anger, sadness, frustration, and evil that resided in my heart towards people committing injustices against his children everyday.

Most importantly, I prayed for me. I prayed, and continue to pray, that he heals me, he allows me to grow, stretches me, loves me, and comforts me. By the end of my prayers, I found myself at peace with myself. I am aware that not everyone is religious or spiritual, so my self care practice of prayer may not be for you. But my brothers, sisters, and siblings, I encourage you to find, try out, and develop a self care practice that heals and strengthens you. We cannot engage in this hard work without a way to deal with and heal from the violence we witness everyday.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Yes, You Can Be Christian and Progressive

Yes, You Can Be Christian and Progressive

Christianity today is being used as a justification to spew hateful and discriminatory rhetoric towards individuals and groups that differ from the status quo of conservative Christianity today. Christianity has been taken hostage of by the Tea Party, and presidential candidates to justify the defunding of Planned Parenthood, refusal of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and fight for “religious freedom”.

Recently, Mike Huckabee flew to Kentucky to stand with Kim Davis upon release from jail. Kim Davis was the clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses due to her religion. Since then, Huckabee has been public about the ongoing “war on Christianity” in Obama’s America. Sadly, Huckabee is not the only Christian spewing hate. He is joined by the Westboro Baptist Church and the countless Americans. Just check out Right Wing Watch for more examples. Due to this hateful rhetoric, it’s rational to associate Christianity with hatefulness, discriminatory, close minded individuals.

That is, in part, why organizations like People For the American Way Foundation exist. We have to reclaim religion and values.

Christianity is not a religion based on hatred and disrespect. It is one of love, grace, mercy, and acceptance. Jesus taught a faith that embraces and welcomes the vulnerable, the poor, and marginalized. He saw the beauty and strength reflective of the diversity existent in the Father. He loved the “outcasts”with an immense love that lead to his earthly demise at the hands of the religious leaders of the day.

I am not here to preach, impose, or convert anyone into Christianity. I, however, want to apologize to all individuals and groups that have been harassed, shamed, or don’t feel accepted in the name of Christianity. I apologize for the hateful and discriminatory rhetoric used in order to pass bills to forbid same-sex marriage. I apologize for the sexist rhetoric used to defund Planned Parenthood and put women’s health in America at risk. I apologize to every marginalized groups that has been attacked by the Tea Party, presidential candidates, churches, and family members in the church. To me, that is not what Christianity embodies.

Christianity is rooted in equality. Everyone is a child of God. Christianity believes in justice and that any injustice against a child of God is an injustice against God. Christianity is not a rhetoric of hatred but one of love.

That is why I am a Christian who believes in progressive values of equality, love and acceptance for all.

Taylor Crumpton Gives Speech

Vow to be Vulnerable

I first encountered vulnerability at the end of the school year band recital. I was graduating from sixth grade at a predominantly white school and showed up to the band hall in a 50s inspired white and brown polka dot dress, cream kitten heels, clear frame oval glasses and cornrows. As soon as I entered in the band hall, everything I felt as an African American preteen girl was heightened. I felt the stares from my classmates who saw me as a “tomboy” that only wore witty graphic tees, jeans, and sneakers. Here I stood magically transformed into a girl overnight. This weird feeling of openness washed over me and I started sweating and shaking.

The nerves began to boil up as I sat down on the first chair of the second row. I quickly realized I was the only second flute part that had showed up to the end of the year concert. At that moment, I had thought the world had ended. Primarily, because the second part was written as an opposing force to the first part and, as such, it was supposed to sound out of tune to the angelic and pretty first part. Suddenly, I had no armor and sixth grade me sat on that stage exposed playing all of second part for 30 minutes.

I felt as if I was going to pass out. After the final piece the director told the band to rise. I thought the audience would be upset because made the piece, which was written for dissonance, sound bad. Finally when I arose, I didn’t pass out or get burned at the stake but was greeted with applause from the audience of parents, director, and fellow band members.

In that moment, I realized being vulnerable does not always result in the negative but can yield unexpected positive results.

Dr. Brene Brown states in her book Daring Greatly that “vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them”. This logic is crucial and essential to work in our communities. Whether it be on-campus, local, state, or national we have to be courageous in being vulnerable with one another.

Our vulnerability is our greatest strength. It allows us to connect with people who I might otherwise have nothing in common. As well as open the pathway for others to share their story and inspire others in their community to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not always going to feel good, in order to be vulnerable you have to be open to being wounded, hurt, criticism, and attack. Yet the connection and openness yields far greater results than being closed off and impersonal.

Dr. Brown says that an “act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to take suit”. In order to bond and became a part of our community to enact change, we have to be vulnerable and share our true self, whether that be a sixth grader in a white and brown polka dot dress or a undergraduate student in Abilene, Texas.

Let’s make a promise to be vulnerable. To be open to the criticism, judgment, and harm but also be receptive to all the connection and openness created because of it. I pledge to be as vulnerable as I can be in my fellowship, community, and self.