When black girls WIN, we all WIN!
Minority males, especially black boys, have long been at the center of social attention for various reasons. An abundance of data exists about the struggles and issues faced by this population in our country and as such there are numerous initiatives aimed at countering the negative forces at play against black and brown boys. In the midst of this landscape, the one group that has been silently impacted yet ignored is black and brown girls and femmes.
In 2014, with racial tensions paramount, President Barak Obama unveiled the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative in response to outcry from black and brown communities following the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. This initiative was praised as revolutionary for its mentorship of young boys and men of color however it failed minority communities in more ways than one. The initiative minimized the impact of systematic and institutionalized racism and criminalization at the hands of law enforcement. It also reinforced respectability politics to keep black youth “on the right track” to “avoid” encounters with police without reflecting on the social factors which underlie these encounters. Most importantly, the initiative left black girls and their experiences with law enforcement in schools and communities behind and continued the historical erasure of their voices from the national discourse.
Black, Latinx, and transgender girls are a demographic that is grossly ignored, pathologized and subject to immense gender scrutiny and policing and therefore this is a group that needs targeted programming and attention. In a report commissioned by Power U Center for Social Change and the Advancement Project, data showed that during the 2013-2014 school year Black and Latina girls were overrepresented in out-of-school suspensions. Black and Brown girls are more likely to be pushed out of the school system, be sexually victimized, and placed in caregiving roles within their family. Moreover, girls of color close connection with the intersections of poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia makes them well-positioned to lead our communities in combating these very issues.