Girls from affiliates across the Girls Inc. Network have mobilized in support of the Black community in recent weeks. From organizing panels and public conversations about racial injustice to creating petitions to taking to the streets in support of Black Lives Matter, our community of young women is leading the way to change, teaching us by example.
Protesting in Solidarity
Alitza, 18, from Girls Inc. Carpinteria has been participating in local community protests, often speaking to the crowds about solidarity with the Black community.
“It feels very empowering to be surrounded by everyone who feels strongly about the cause we are all supporting. I feel like the young generation is finally taking steps to change their future for the better. Movements don’t just start from hashtags, they start from people finally saying ‘enough.’
“Girls Inc. has definitely prepared me to use my voice and be heard. I feel that everything I’ve learned has allowed me to want to lead and to want to speak out against social injustice. I want to stand united with everyone and let everyone know that their fight is my fight as well.
“One thing I want to say to the world is to continue to fight against the injustice that everyone still experiences. Sometimes the people you fight for won’t want to fight for you but you still have to do it. We must stand in solidarity and we must work together to fix the injustices that are still occurring in the world. We can all do it and we can all make a change.”
Petitioning in Protest
Joleena, a Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis girl and Teen Advocacy Council 2020 member, has not been able to participate in the protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder, and instead is using her personal blog to drive change, having drafted a letter and petition around police brutality and the need for immediate action and calling for reforms (i.e., mandating the use of officer body cameras, implicit bias training, and community-based oversight) that she is sharing with friends and family, and on social media.
“I am a Shortridge graduating senior, writer, photographer, activist, and most importantly a Black girl. I am a Black girl who is tired of the unjust system we keep placing a band-aid on thinking that it will fix the issue…
“I have been able to fight for my people at home. Some of the things I’ve done that you can do yourself include signing petitions, donating, posting on social media, speaking to your peers, voting, and lastly contacting your local officials. One of the most impactful ways you can make sure that the government represents your values and rights is to start at the local level. The mayors, the congress, the senators, and the governors have the biggest impact on your day to day life. These are the people you directly feel and will listen to your comments more than the national government.
“All I ask is that you take the time to let your local officials know that you are angry. They need to see that we are fed up. The more voices we have the stronger we are.”
Having the Tough Conversations
Maya of Girls Inc. of Memphis has taken the time to process her emotions and is engaging directly with her friends, family, fellow Girls Inc. girls, and community through deep and unflinching conversations about racial justice.
“I have experienced a whirlwind of emotions over the past couple of weeks following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently, George Floyd. There have been protests all over the globe, in places like the UK, Japan, South Korea, London, Germany, and so many others. It has been incredible to witness the entire world unified under a single cause: human rights. People are beginning to recognize the possibility of a bright future where funds allocated to police departments are redistributed back into education, health care, public transportation, libraries, parks, housing, and mental health resources for our communities. It is such an incredible experience to be able to put forth my own voice and to take steps towards justice alongside millions of others who share the same vision for our future.
“Through my involvement in the Teen Advocacy Council, I was given the remarkable opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and lobby on Capitol Hill for the #GirlsToo campaign. This experience taught me about the importance of advocacy and the power that I hold to demand change and to speak against injustice. I was able to gain the confidence and the courage to stand up and speak out for myself and for others.
“There are so many people who are afraid of speaking up about politics in fear of stirring up controversy and potentially upsetting others who disagree with their opinions. Silence is complacency. Even when speaking up about these injustices with those who share similar views, we often tend to avoid those tougher conversations with those who are not so enlightened. Change cannot take place within an echo chamber, and we need to have these tough conversations in order to make real change.
“Sign petitions, donate, vote, educate, protest, spread awareness, use your social media platforms, have those tough conversations, and hold yourself and others accountable. Do everything in your power to fight for freedom and justice!”