Even in the midst of the excitement of our first literacy and STEM lessons of the year, we seem to be constantly facing frightening and disheartening news: just this month we have seen white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, the presidential pardon of the sheriff who leveraged his role and institution to willfully abuse the human rights of Latinos, and the elimination of the law requiring companies to collect data on pay disparities by gender and race.
We have also heard about the threat to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides temporary relief from deportation to those brought to the U.S. as children. Without DACA, many of our girls are at risk for deportation—including those who, through years of dedication, have finally achieved their dreams of enrolling in college.
Let us be clear. These events send our girls a false and deeply harmful message: that they are inferior, they aren’t valuable, they don’t have rights, and they don’t belong.
We cannot leave such challenges unanswered. Our girls deserve better. They deserve a chance to live free from fear of harm based on their race, religion and immigration status, and they deserve the chance to pursue their ambitions to become scientists or engineers or college professors. They deserve the recognition that they contribute immensely to the success of our communities, and that when they win, we all win.
I am constantly reminded that our youth are watching us as we make choices. We need to show them what we stand for. We need to defend girls’ rights—including girls of color, girls who are immigrants, and girls of all gender identities. Let’s continue to create bright spots for them, like the tens of thousands who turned out in a show of love not hate in the Bay Area and Boston. Keep showing up; keep talking with your friends and neighbors; keep contacting your elected officials. Access resources to use current events as “teachable moments” from the Alliance for Excellent Education, and visit http://defenddaca.com/ for elected officials to call and information to share about DACA.
At Girls Inc., as always, we will continue to support our girls’ growth, intellectually, physically, and interpersonally. We will provide spaces for girls to talk about burdens that weigh heavy on their minds as they learn to navigate and to lead in a world that is not always as it should be. And we will always hold with them the recognition that they are powerful- that they are strong, smart and bold.
There is much to do, but together, we will keep fighting for a brighter future for our girls. Thank you for being part of the Girls Inc. community, and for your continued support.