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Women of Color urge Obama to‘re-align’ ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

George Curry | 6/25/2014, 2:55 p.m.
The women added, “We simply cannot agree that the effects of these conditions on women and girls should pale to ...
Anita Hill

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – More than 1,000 women of color – including Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker; actress Rosie Perez; political activist Angela Davis; Anita Hill, a law professor best known for testifying that she had been sexually harassed by future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and economist Julianne Malveaux – released a letter to President Obama Tuesday asking him to expand his White House initiative aimed at Black and Latino males to include women and girls of color.

“We write to join the concerns expressed by the letter from 200 Black Men about My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), and to share our hopes that together, we can re-align this important Initiative to reflect the values of inclusion, equal opportunity and shared fate that have propelled our historic struggle for racial justice forward,” the letter said.

“While we applaud the efforts on the part of the White House, private philanthropy, social justice organizations and others to move beyond colorblind approaches to race-specific problems, we are profoundly troubled about the exclusion of women and girls of color from this critical undertaking. The need to acknowledge the crisis facing boys should not come at the expense of addressing the stunted opportunities for girls who live in the same households, suffer in the same schools, and struggle to overcome a common history of limited opportunities caused by various forms of discrimination.”

The women added, “We simply cannot agree that the effects of these conditions on women and girls should pale to the point of invisibility, and are of such little significance that they warrant zero attention in the messaging, research and resourcing of this unprecedented Initiative. When we acknowledge that both our boys and girls struggle against the odds to succeed, and we dream about how, working together, we can develop transformative measures to help them realize their highest aspirations, we cannot rest easy on the notion that the girls must wait until another train comes for them. Not only is there no exceedingly persuasive reason not to include them, the price of such exclusion is too high and will hurt our communities and country for many generations to come.”

The letter pointed out:

• • Our daughters are disproportionately at risk, as the data on violent victimization make clear;

• • Native American girls are victims of rape or sexual assault at more than double the rate of other racial groups, while Black girls have the highest rates of interpersonal victimization from assault and are more likely to know their assailant than all other groups;

• • The homicide rate among Black girls and women ages 10-24 is higher than for any other group of females, and higher than White and Asian men as well;

• • Black girls are more than three times more likely to be suspended from school than White girls, and are disproportionately funneled through the juvenile justice systems;

• • Black women are three times more likely to wind up behind bars than White women;