Latina girls and teens have the highest rates of depression and suicide. Understanding the need for young Latinas to feel seen and affirmed, organizations have popped up across the nation in recent years to serve our girls directly – and they’re dope af.
From Los Angeles to New York, clubs, camps and nonprofits are creating spaces where Latinas and other girls of color can feel empowered, gain confidence and find their voice. They’re educating our niñas of their history, reminding them of their worth and giving them the tools to help them survive and thrive in their years ahead. And these groups aren’t doing this in a preachy, uncool kind of way. They are using technology, zines, art and new media to teach them about issues like feminism, racial justice and gentrification. The result: powerful black and brown girl armies ready to take the world by storm.
Here are some of the fiercest squads for girls of color throughout the nation.
There is only one solution. REVOLUTION REVOLUTION✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/56SN5ZFUP9
— Radical Monarchs (@RadicalMonarchs) January 21, 2017
Years ago, Latina mom Anayvette Martinez had the brilliant idea to form a scouting group for girls of color that would help little ones navigate their identity and instill radical values of social justice and self-love. In 2014, with the help of her friend Marilyn, Radical Monarchs was born. The Oakland, Calif.-based group of black and brown girls between the ages of 8 and 12 offers an intersectional feminist twist to the Girl Scouts. The girls, for instance, earn badges for “adventures,” like attending workshops on disability justice, writing letters to transgender immigrants in detention centers, marching at Black Lives Matter protests and challenging beauty ideals.
Out in Texas, Latinitas is empowering girls through journalism. The nonprofit organization, with offices in Austin and El Paso, uses media and technology to strengthen young Latinas’ confidence, education and skills, enhancing their opportunities for the future. Even more, the organization provides a space for girls to discover their voice and express themselves. Latinitas has an online magazine that members, and even virtual interns from across the country, contribute to. There, they write about the issues important to them: family, school, friendships, body image, politics, social justice, art and more.
Las Fotos Project
WE LOVE OUR MENTORS! 💖💯 Mentors make the world go round. amirate? We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the commitment and enthusiasm of our volunteer mentors. They spend countless hours making sure the girls at Las Fotos Project have everything they need to succeed. Thanks LFP mentors! #lasfotosproject #mentorsmatter #youthmentor #photographymentor #LFPspring2017 #LAyouth #YouthPhotography #girlgaze #HeyWorld #girlpower #BoyleHeightsYouth #BoyleHeights #EastLAYouth #LincolnHeightsYouth #LincolnHeights #SouthLAYouth #SouthLA #HighlandParkYouth #HighlandPark #EastLAYouth
In Los Angeles, Las Fotos Project is using cameras to bring about positive change in the lives of low-income girls of color. The after-school program offers girls between the ages of 11 and 18 free classes on how to operate a camera and learn proper photography techniques. Through these lessons and the projects they are tasked to complete, the girls also learn media literacy, problem-solving and communication skills. Even more, most of the projects, and the amazing galleries that come from them, center on social issues, like gentrification, women in the workplace, feminism, body image and more.
Smart Girl Club
Out in New York, Afro-Nuyorican rapper Princess Nokia and her homegirl Milah Libin created Smart Girl Club, a space for young urban feminists. Through social media, a podcast, zine-making and workshops, the pair offer visibility to brown and black girl power, discuss feminism, raise money to give back to the community and engage in spiritual wellness and divine healing.
In Los Angeles, HOODsisters is using art to create awareness. The group of women artists also works with young Latinas, teaching them about the power of art and offering them skills on how to do it themselves. Together, members take girls out to the streets and create art together. But the pieces themselves are educational. The “hood” in HOODsisters both signals locale as well as the group’s mission: “Honoring our Origins, Ourselves, and our Dreams through public art in our communities.” And the art the women and girls produce do just that.
In Miami, CODeLLA is a program teaching Latina girls from ages 8 through 12 how to code. Through an eight-week Tech Entrepreneurship + Coding Immersion Program, they teach the youth computer science, digital literacy and leadership development. Throughout it all, they are instilling young Latinas with confidence and allowing them to reimagine what smart looks like.
WriteGirl is a Los Angeles-based creative writing and mentoring organization predominantly, though not exclusively, for girls of color. Through the nonprofit, girls between the ages of 13 and 18 are offered free workshops, panel discussions and special events. Even more, each youth is teamed up with a professional woman writer. Together, the girls learn the power of a pen, using it to discover their voice, address the problems taking place in their communities and explore higher education and career interests.