Years ago, girls called the “Rosebuds” decided they wanted to change their name and the way they were perceived in the public eye. They were called Brownies instead, based off of the mythical creatures who did work in secret to help people in need.
Now, a Brownies troop in East Oakland is taking their mission in a different direction. This group is learning about the political state of our country and their political state of being. For example, their current unit is on “Radical Beauty,” which looks at loving your skin tone, loving your body, and what beauty even means.
One of the women that leads the group, Anayvette Martinez, is a queer woman of color. e She talked about what she calls “The Radical Brownies” with Bitch Media earlier this year. Her daughter wanted to join a girl’s group like the girl scouts. This fourth grader, a young girl of color herself, is growing into her own at a pivotal time for people of color. Her mother thought it was necessary for her to think about her identity. She knew that there was no current group that supported the sisterhood that she thought was vital to her identity formation and understanding, so they made their own.
This isn’t some kind of lecture for these kids, though. They’ve got various opinions on these issues, and are encouraged to; each unit has projects and special activities that highlight the girls’ individualism. These girls talk about their personal experiences in concurrence with the issues at hand in their curriculum and the world at large.
At a time when #BlackLivesMatter has risen on the news and our newsfeeds, it’s important to include today’s youth in issues that they’re going to grow up to deal with, instead of letting them be blindsided once they step out into the world. It’s especially important for young women of color, who have to navigate not only racism in the world, but also sexism. That isn’t even taking into account the intersections of the two, which compound to create violent and unwelcoming situations.
Empowering young girls has so often fallen to the wayside that it’s considered a political act. This Brownies troop makes it their basic priority, and that’s a beautiful thing. If you’re in the Oakland area, keep your eyes peeled for their brown berets (Black Panther tributes) at your local marches!
Cover image courtesy of The Telegraph.