5 ways to support the leadership of Black and Latinx girls

This roundtable is the third in a series to understand the implications of our Ready To Lead research report that came out in August 2020. Our panelists shared their personal stories of the daunting task of parenting Black and Latinx girls in a White world. They talked about their pain in witnessing the way their daughters’ leadership has been minimized and diminished by the education system, and they vulnerably expressed that there have been times when they have also bought into the myth that their daughters are “less capable” than their White peers.

We couldn’t take notes fast enough. Here are five of our top takeaways for parents, caregivers, and allies alike:

  1. “Keep showing up.” Panelists Jenjii Faith Hysten and Olivia Araiza talked about the importance of the PTA, “You have to get into that PTA as a Black and Latinx parent. The PTA holds a lot of power… If they’re scared because you’re loud, find an ally or abolitionist to go with you.” For allies*, this might mean redefining what showing up looks like. Participate in building a community of equity and inclusion at your child’s school that recognizes the unique way Black and Latinx parents show up at schools, especially when it looks different than what you’re used to.
  2. “Be the Advocate.” Jenjii called on all of us to use the data from the Ready to Lead report to be the advocate in the system for young people. Get the resources released for training all staff interacting with Black and Latinx students, get more resources released for even more staff and more mentors. She called on us to recognize that this is our moment, and to ask to see the three-year plan on how this impact will be sustained.
  3. “Do not wait for the system to change.” All the panelists spoke about getting support for Black and Latinx girls outside of school. This might mean mentors, therapists who look like them, or healing practices like walks in the park or regular connection with friends.
  4. Let girls lead by setting the agenda and creating the vision. Our panelists explored that girls’ leadership shouldn’t be confined to “doing”, especially if the needs of the girls don’t match the vision coming from White leadership in schools. The girls need the opportunity to be creative, bring people together, and engage and advocate for their community.
  5. Give them what they need before they need it. Jenjii said, “Before you teach Black and Latinx girls how broken the system says they are, show them who they come from. Give them a strong foundation of their power, their heritage. So when the day comes when it will be called into question, because it will, they already know that they come from greatness.”

*Dr. Bettina Love’s work was referenced during the discussion around allies versus co-conspirators. You can listen to her explanation here and buy her book here.


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