WOMENS eNEWS: Young Women of Color Break the Silence. Now What?

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By Joanne N. Smith

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–The pain of the grand jury’s decision last week to not charge Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was just compounded by what happened here in New York. Another grand jury decided on Dec. 3 to not bring criminal charges against Daniel Pantaleo, a police officer who used a chokehold to restrain Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after the confrontation. These incidents are tipping points for community organizations such as ours, Girls for Gender Equity.

We have led Brooklyn’s Hands Up solidarity protest for all victims of state sanctioned and gender based violence.

As we demand justice for all, we take a stand for the girls and women overlooked by the media. One recent example: The manslaughter charges against Officer Joseph Weekley from Detroit that were dropped on Nov. 30 for the shooting and killing 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones while she slept. Another: Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill Cleveland woman was killed on Nov. 13 after police used a takedown move outside her family’s home.

Led by the young people we serve, Girls for Gender Equity, the organization that I founded, felt compelled to answer the urgency of this moment in refusing to do business as usual.

We held a Walk Out on Dec. 1 and convened in front of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, highlighting the names of cis and trans women, men and genderqueer people who have been killed–and largely overlooked–in recent years.

This is all part and parcel of our work, including our role in monitoring the White House.

In February, when the White House announced its My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address the particular challenges facing young men of color we were among the critics with a swift and obvious question: what about young women?

The report “Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity,” recently released by the White House Council on Women and Girls, could definitely be seen as an effort to fill in the gaps.

It highlights initiatives over the past six years to, as the White House said, “reduce barriers to success for everyone including women and girls of color.” Its attention to issues of health, educational and economic disparities is admirable.

However, the White House’s report was little more than a six-year coming out party.

For more on the problems with the White House report, please read the full essay HERE on WOMENS eNEWS.

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