We are reaching out in grief and anger. The rampant racism and anti-Black violence on which our country was built continues to take the lives and freedom of Black people in ways that many of us will never understand. The fight for Black women, girls*, and trans and gender-nonconforming folx in particular, is often overlooked or seen as an afterthought. We want to uplift their names: Breonna Taylor, Iyanna Dior, Nina Pop, and too many more.
We cannot normalize or become numb to white supremacist violence. As prison abolitionist Angela Davis said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” We are part of a sector that has a long history of white feminism, and it is crucial that we engage in long-term anti-racism rather than reacting to the moment.
The work of Black women, such as Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality,” has resulted in significant progress. The work of Black women-led girls’ organizations, who represent almost 25% of our membership, are redefining how we show up for girls. The work of Black youth, such as Xavier Brown and Akil Riley, who organized 15,000 people to march against police violence in Oakland last Monday, are driving communities to disrupt the status quo. This change is ongoing and we have a responsibility to continue this work.
At Alliance for Girls, we know we have a lot of personal work to do as staff and as an organization. We are by no means perfect and always working to educate ourselves on best practices. We wanted to share a few responses that our organization is taking below, recognizing that 400 years of oppression will not go away with a simple acknowledgement, reading an article, or attending a training.
Please join us in committing to the following first steps:
- Give your staff a day to heal, process, organize, and essentially care for themselves however they need to. For white staff and non-Black staff of color, this day is a good time to read and reflect on Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues by Dr. Monique W. Morris, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, and White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, among others.
- Assess how your organization can make a long term commitment to anti-racism, from your board level to strategic plan to volunteers and programs you offer. Alliance for Girls is hiring a consultant to support us in developing this plan. We are also buying books from this list of anti-racism books for staff and including these readings in staff’s work plans.
- Donate to Black women-led girls’ organizations. If you can, become a monthly donor of these organizations to sustain their important work.
- If you are non-Black, be intentional about how you check in on your Black staff, colleagues, and youth. Do not ask, “Are you okay?,” or put your Black colleagues on the spot. Here is an excellent list of do’s and don’ts.
- Support, listen to, and take leadership from Black women, girls, and trans and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) folx, and Black women and TGNC-led organizations. Girls for Gender Equity’s Black Girls Bill of Rights delineates the components that contribute to creating a world that Black girls would want to live in. Pass the mic to Black women, girls, and TGNC folx when there are leadership or speaking opportunities (with their consent).
- Support your local Black-owned businesses. The Bay Area Organization Of Black Owned Businesses’ printable directory and Bay Area Black Market’s digital directory are great resources. As an organization, we’re pledging to support Black-owned businesses for organizational and programmatic expenses.
- Amplify and support the demands of the Movement for Black Lives and other Black-led calls to action. Text “ActionNow” to 90975 for live updates. Sign petitions to help bring justice and awareness to Black people like Breonna Taylor.
- Take time to do a journal reflection on the following questions:
- In what ways am I complicit in, silent about or have actively perpetuated anti-Blackness?
- What steps will I take to educate myself actively to unlearn anti-Blackness?
- What am I willing to sacrifice for the movement? Where are my strengths and abilities? What can I contribute?
We want to know and uplift other practices our members and school partners are implementing to meet the needs of this moment and commit to anti-racism long-term. Let us know how your organization is responding by replying to this email.
This is just the first of many conversations and actions that we are committed to at Alliance for Girls. They may be uncomfortable, yet they are necessary for us to address interpersonal and systemic anti-Black racism. Over the course of this month, we will develop a more thorough plan that integrates anti-racism within all levels of our organization, setting goals for us as an organization and membership to move towards anti-racist practices over the course of the next few years and beyond.
In solidarity and action,
Alliance for Girls
*”Girls” refers to gender-expansive youth (cis girls, trans girls, non-binary youth, gender non-conforming youth, gender queer youth and any girl-identified youth).