Raíz is a program by Planned Parenthood Federation of America that works alongside the Latino community to fight for reproductive health, sex education, and access to care. Raíz organizers like Julia Desangles (above, second from right) work with Planned Parenthood affiliates and community partners across the country to train leaders and speak out about issues affecting local Latinx communities.
My name is Julia Desangles, and I am a Raíz organizer. A day in my life varies from week to week and season to season. Throughout it all, though, the one consistent thing that I create time and space for is community. In Central Florida, the folks I work with are also the same individuals I spend time with to decompress and the same ones I put my trust into. Wholeheartedly.
It has been my experience that creating vulnerable and sincere relationships with my community members IS my work. Marginalized communities have historically been mistreated by the medical community, experimented on, sterilized, and have consistently faced barriers to health care due to white supremacy, patriarchy, and other institutions of oppression. I know there is a very real mistrust of health care providers because of this history, even with providers like Planned Parenthood, and it is part of my role to help build this trust, by building community. Through community is how we transform our work and ourselves. Through community is how I heal, hold myself and others accountable, learn to be a better leader, and stay grounded.
My week begins with a meeting with local partners in Orlando to plan our upcoming Empowerment workshop for Womxn in Central Florida. In this space, we open the door to all womxn (cis, trans, nonbinary, queer) to foster genuine conversations about our experiences as womxn in a patriarchal society, while also challenging our own values and perspectives grounded in colonialist mentalities.
After our planning meeting, I am on the phone connecting with our local organizers in our affiliate, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. While we are all hours away from one another, we are able to touch base and stay connected.
Next, I’m off to Kissimmee to facilitate a training with our volunteer so that they can own the Patient Advocacy Program (PAP). Folks who come to Planned Parenthood health centers may not know how to share their story, volunteer, or support Planned Parenthood, and so this program really allows us to engage with them! As an ambivert, PAP used to be something I dreaded because I felt like I was bothering patients in Planned Parenthood waiting rooms. NOW, I understand it to be a wonderful opportunity to meet and share with the community.
For lunch, I heat up leftovers or grab some food nearby to bring back to the health center. If I have time, I ask folks at the health center if they have lunch or want something to eat!
I make my way back and swallow my food whole — my family used to call me the “black hole” because of how much food I would put down!
In any work, there are administrative responsibilities to complete, so I spend some time checking and responding to emails, sharing resources and coordinating with folks on the daily.
In the later afternoon, I set up for the Raíz organizer call! This is our time for all of the Raíz organizers to share with one another all of the amazing work we are doing in our regions. It is exciting to hear about the different ways we are engaging our community, especially since we see each other maybe once a year!
Finally, I usually end my Monday nights attending the reproductive justice committee meeting with a local org called Organize Florida. These meetings are super special to me because they brought really incredible womxn into my life who are constantly challenging me to do and BE better. This is a space for community members to work towards a more just society — one that recognizes that our reproductive health does not exist in a vacuum, but rather within a body of multiples identities, oppressions, privileges, and experiences.
I grab my things and head home. My favorite part of the day is coming home to my cat, Bambi, and my roommate’s cat, Jean Ralphio. I eat, watch some tv or maybe make some art, listen to music, and pass out. Some days are more exciting than others. But I am always grounded in the people who have impacted me and bring so much love to my life. Tired and loved, loving and sleepy. Hasta mañana.
Top Image: Julia Desangles (second from right) and volunteer leaders celebrate at the Power of Pink Summit.
Second Image: Julia Desangles (left); Christopher Cuevez (Executive Director at QLatinx, center); and Sam Rodriguez (Raiz volunteer, right) table at the Orlando Langauge Exchange.