On June 17 a letter from over 1,400 Women of Color entitled “Why We Can’t Wait: Women of Color Urge Inclusion in ‘My Brother’s Keeper’” was sent to President Obama. The open letter questions how attempts to address the challenges facing males of color –without integrating a comparable focus on the complex lives of girls and women who live and struggle together in the same families, homes, schools, and neighborhoods–advances the interests of the community as a whole. The women who came together to lift up this issue come from all walks of life. ~African American Policy Forum, Racial Justice for All: Women of Color Speak Out on "My Brother's Keeper."
As you may recall, I recently shared a really good piece by Dillard University's President titled, "I Am Here for "My Brother's Keeper: Stop Writing Letters and Just Do The Work." I still get the thought behind that, however how do we expect effective work to be done when funds are limited for socioeconomically and racially based programs, particularly for black and brown girls now. Organizations must have funding in order to thrive. Rachel Gilmer, a grassroots organizer and activist, went into more details regarding the funding for programs. I now understand more...the politics and philanthropy. The My Brother's Keeper Initiative has received millions of dollars for programs nationwide that will support Black, Latino and Native American boys. How will organizations respond to this? Will more shift their focus toward boys when there's definitely a need among young black and brown girls as well? I currently live in my hometown where programs for girls have closed. However, there's a great need. Black and brown girls are among the highest growing population in the juvenile justice system. Also, the school suspension and high school dropout rates among Black girls continue to grow (in my small hometown alone--as these statistics are reflected nationwide.) Therefore, there is again a great need for this demographic. As various #WhyWeCantWait tweets stated:
@AyadeLeon: "Organizations without gender-specific programs are now developing initiatives that only serve boys to get #MyBrothersKeeper funds."
@ifftifftai "Funding for racial justice is already small. With My Brother's Keeper, the funding has changed to be only for men and boys. "
@ifftifftai "An "either-or" framework outlaws any concern for girls of color and makes you suspect if you do have concerns."
@ifftifftai "My Brother's Keeper forces organizations to make a choice: shift to meet funding priorities or stick to an intersectional approach."
Sigh (and the power of 140 characters on Twitter.)
Like their white counterparts, black and brown girls should have the opportunity to achieve their dreams more as well as support to help them get there. I was enlightened even more as Rosa Linda Fregroso went into detail discussing how Latina girls are expected to defer their dreams and take care of everyone in their families. Too many of our girls (our daughters) are in crisis and have barriers, similar to our sons. Yet, as the funding has increased for the boys, there has been a decrease in funding for the girls. This is one reason (a major one) to #WhyWeCantWait.
I appreciate the information I learned during the webinar and I appreciate the voices of the many women and men who spoke up regarding this major concern. (See more tweets that were storified in which my tweet and status update about my change of mind was featured.)