Women and girls of color, including Pulitzer-prize winning author Alice Walker, actress Rosario Dawson and renowned activist Angela Davis, have all signed on to a new open letter to President Barack Obama, urging the nation’s leader to include girls and women of color in his game-changing “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, according to a press release.
More than 1,000 women and girls have signed on, declaring, “the crisis facing young boys of color should not come at the expense of girls who live in the same households, suffer in the same schools and endure the same struggles. It should reflect an attempt to overcome a history of racial subordination and limited opportunities for the entire community, as opposed to creating opportunities for some and not for others,” the release states
The letter, titled, “Why We Can’t Wait: Women of Color Urge Inclusion in ‘My Brother’s Keeper’” goes on to encourage a second look at the initiative and make it inclusive of boys and girls of color, reflecting their shared challenges.
“Those who have justified the exclusive gender focus of MBK often remind us that male youth of color are like the miner’s canary: their plight warns us that something is wrong in the mine,” the letter reads. “Indeed, something is desperately wrong when so many of our youth are falling victim to the consequences of punitive discipline, underfunded schools, poor job prospects, declining investments in public space, decreasing access to higher education, and worsening prospects on the job market.”
“Clearly American society continues to be a toxic environment for many of our young people. Yet male-exclusive initiatives seem to lose sight of the implications of the canary’s distress: it is not a signal that only male canaries are suffering. It makes no sense to equip the canary with a mentor, a gas mask and or some other individual-level support while leaving the mine as it is and expecting the females to fend for themselves. If the air is toxic, it is toxic for everyone forced to breathe it,” it continues.
“We cannot pass the burden of invisibility to yet another generation of our girls of color. When we see the challenges they face and actually listen to what they say, how can anyone who loves our daughters as much as our sons say, ‘No, you must wait.’ Our girls need to know they are supported and loved, and that we are working to remove the obstacles that undermine their well being as much as the boys. How can we in good conscience do anything less?” said organizer Kimberle Williams Crenshaw in the press release.