By NYLU AVERY-BERNSHTAYN, age 10
In 2014, Anayvette Martinez’s fourth grade daughter wanted to join a girl’s group similar to but separate from the Girl Scouts of the USA. According to Martinez, “I began to imagine… a group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood.” Martinez, a long time community activist, recruited her friend Marilyn Hollinquest to form a girl’s political troop rooted in social justice. The Radical Monarchs were born.
The inaugural chapter was established in Oakland, CA, and the troop is open to eight to 12-year-old girls of color. There are currently 12 girls in the troop. They wear brown berets as a tribute to the Black Panther and Brown Beret movements that fought for justice and alternative ways to represent Black and Latino communities. One of the girls said, “It’s really good for me because it brings out who I am.”
The Radical Monarchs’ curriculum is unit-based. Each unit consists of three to four sessions of activities. At the end of each unit, girls earn badges for Food Justice, Radical Self-Love and being LGBTQ Allies. The girls earned a Black Lives Matter badge by marching in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Oakland. The troop functions as a safe space where girls can engage in dialogue about Black history, learn about social justice and create a new model of girlhood.