Campus Cutie: Michyah Thomas

I sat down with this week’s Campus Cutie, Michyah Thomas, to talk about Planned Parenthood, reproductive rights, and what it’s like to start an on-campus organization at Hampton University. Michyah, is a Political Science major, History minor from New Jersey, recently became the president and founder of the Generation Action chapter at Hampton University.

Generation Action is an organization by Planned Parenthood specific to young activists residing on college campuses. There are currently over 300 chapters across the country working with students to advocate for reproductive rights, promote political awareness, provide adequate sex education, and actively serve their communities. Now, because of Michyah’s passion for and determination to bring awareness and activism onto Hampton University’s campus, we are contributing to Planned Parenthood’s ever-growing initiative to educate college students on reproductive justice.

HC: So, why start a Generation Action chapter at Hampton? What is it about Planned Parenthood that’s so important as far as, not only women’s health, but men’s health as well?

MT: Last year, I ended up getting really sick, and I had to rely on really low-income healthcare to “stay afloat”. There was a point in the semester where I was bed ridden, I couldn’t go to class, and I really relied on other people to bring me food. I was literally stuck. I couldn’t do anything. Going to the health center was literally all I had, and, if you’ve ever been to the health center, it’s not very much help. So, I was really relying on close to nothing to get through what I was going through.

I was invited to go to a conference at the time – I didn’t think I was going to be able to go because I was really sick. It was during that time when I was bed ridden and everything, but I dragged myself all the way to [Washington, D.C.]. I was like, “I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to learn better ways to help my community.”

I just happened to run into somebody from Planned Parenthood (national) at the conference, and they offered me an internship this year with the Hampton office. Through the Hampton office, they actually introduced me to the Planned Parenthood Generation Action program.

Somebody else is relying on them for 100% of their health services, but there [are] out there who are so against it for 3% of their services. Like, are you kidding me?  It’s so important to me that other people have that change of heart that I had.

HC: How are women’s reproductive rights being targeted in the current political climate?

MT: Reproductive justice is such a complicated issue to actually look at. Reproductive justice – even though it’s the right to choose whether you want to have a baby – the way that I look at it is, it’s not just that, it’s everything around it that’s making you question why you wouldn’t want to have a kid in the first place. There are so many different things going on affecting a woman’s thought process.

Having a kid is such a beautiful thing […], but also being able to raise a kid in a safe and sustainable environment is extremely important. Directly, of course there are attacks on black women and healthcare. More than anybody else, [black women] are deeply affected by health care disparities.

HC: This is an extremely new organization on campus. What obstacles emerged when trying to bring Generation Action onto Hampton’s campus? What was it like recruiting members and/or planning events on campus?

MT: In terms of becoming official we, as a group, are kind of questioning if Hampton will react poorly because it is a Planned Parenthood-affiliated organization.

I’m just going to say it straight – Hampton is very conservative in their ideals and Planned Parenthood is nowhere near that. Planned Parenthood is, like, [the] polar opposite of what Hampton University’s respectability politics would be on paper. So, that’s a conflict, but it’s more of an internal conflict for me.

It’s more-so about being able to use campus spaces.

HC: You’re very politically engaged. What’s a good piece of advice for those who feel helpless under the current administration or feel like there’s nothing they can do to fight back?

MT: Hampton administration? Not really a problem. I mean, of course, this is the perfect opportunity to plug my organization she laughs. But if you don’t have a place to go, if you want to get involved but don’t know how to get involved, [Generation Action] wants to create leaders.

As far as the Trump administration, you know, it’s so easy to feel helpless. It’s, like, what the heck? What is going on?

The Democratic office of Hampton is right next to Wingzone. They offer internships throughout the year. It’s election season right now, so they’re going to be pushing, pushing, pushing up until November 7th. It’s another organization that’s nonpartisan and nonprofit which is really good to get involved with.

HC: If you could be mentored by anyone, dead or alive who would it be?

MT: I would have to say…Michelle Obama! She is such a queen! Like, oh my god. She’s so graceful and elegant.

HC: If you were given the power to elect the next President of the United States, who would it be?

MT: I don’t know about the names they’ve been throwing around, but I think I’d say Michelle Obama!

Generation Action is gearing up to promote education, activism, and community outreach across Hampton’s campus. To stay up to date on everything the organization has to offer, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram.