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7 Woke Squads For Girls Of Color That Need To Be On Your Radar

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.

Radical Monarchs

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.


Such a great time with the Latinitas at #fotos7

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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

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


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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.


#transgenerational #hoodsisters818 #mural #honoringourorigins

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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.

READ: “Some Girls” Documentary Tackles Why Depression Is Prevalent Among Latinas

Let us know about amazing organizations for young Latinas and girls of color in your city!

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The NAACP Is Demanding That A New York Middle School Take Action After Four Girls Of Color Were Strip-Searched

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The NAACP Is Demanding That A New York Middle School Take Action After Four Girls Of Color Were Strip-Searched

Last month, four Black and Latina girls were allegedly strip-searched at a middle school in Binghamton, New York, and the events, and inaction surrounding it, has impacted their wellbeing.

According to Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, a local advocacy group, the students were suspected of using drugs because they were “hyper and giddy” during lunch at East Middle School on Jan. 15. They were then reportedly strip-searched by the nurse and assistant principal.

The searches were done without the consent of the girls’ parents, who were made aware of the incident when their daughters arrived home.

“The children had their clothing removed and felt shamed, humiliated, and traumatized by [the] experience,” the group wrote on Facebook. “While they were being searched, the nurse made disparaging comments about the eczema of one girl and the size of another’s breasts.”

The group continued: “They, as well as their parents, believe the heinous and excessive actions implemented by the school were racially motivated.”

In an interview with ESSENCE, one of the girl’s mother’s called the school’s behavior “incorrect” and said her daughter and her friends were targeted for being low-income girls of color.

“I feel it was based off of the color of their skin, because they were females, and classism. We’re not higher class. So, I just feel like they were just being judged all around the board,” Chanderlia Silva told the publication.

Silva added that assumptions that the girls were on drugs because they were excited during lunch time were ridiculous, noting that “a child is in school, and it’s eight or nine periods in a day, and so when lunchtime comes, it’s a relief for kids.”

“So once lunchtime comes you actually get to connect with your friends, and talk, and laugh, and just be yourself,” she said.

These days, Silva says her 12-year-old daughter isn’t laughing as much. The girl, who her mother described as loving music, dancing, laughing and playing with makeup, has lost interest in the activities that used to bring her joy. Instead, she often sleeps in all day, behaviors that have her mother concerned.

“I felt like she was going into a stage of depression,” she said. “She was displaying behaviors of wanting to hurt herself, which definitely put me in a bad space because you never want to see your child go through that. Then, as a mom, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know exactly what to do. In those situations, you don’t want to put her in a more stressful space.”

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is representing all the families and seeking justice on behalf of the girls, said that the patterns Silva’s daughter is displaying are common signs of trauma.

“The girls have been traumatized by what has occurred, and research – psychological research – is very clear that for a strip search to be conducted at school for adolescents, [it] can have immediate and long-term consequences for girls,” Cara McClellan, of the LDF, told ESSENCE. “When we talked to the mothers of the girls who were subjected to this really demeaning treatment, it’s clear that they’ve seen changes in their daughters as a result, that their dignity and their trust has been violated by school officials and as a result, first of all, they no longer feel safe at school.”

The Binghamton City School District denied allegations that staff administered a strip search.

“When conducting medical evaluation, it may require the removal of bulky outside clothing to expose an arm so that vitals like blood pressure and pulse can be assessed,” the district said. “This is not the same as a strip search.”

Hundreds of community members came together following the alleged incident questioning why no action has been taken against employees involved.

In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he asked the State Department of Education to step in and investigate the allegations. More recently, the LDF demanded that changes be made to Binghamton Schools, apologies be given to the girls and disciplinary action be taken against the principal, assistant principal and nurse East Middle School.

Read: 5 Things To Know About Latina Girls And The Sexual Abuse-To-Prison Pipeline

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When Emma Gonzalez Leads The March For Our Lives, She’ll Be Following In The Footsteps Of These Latina Civil Rights Leaders


When Emma Gonzalez Leads The March For Our Lives, She’ll Be Following In The Footsteps Of These Latina Civil Rights Leaders

As you gear up and rally to march for our lives this weekend, you might be completely in awe of the power and effect of Emma Gonzalez. The high school student from Parkland, Fl has, along with the great efforts of her peers, rallied cities and communities across the globe to fight back against the NRA and the inaction of political leaders who have long held the power to put an end to gun violence. For many of us, it’s exciting to see a Latina show the world that once again we are forces to be reckoned with. But long before Gonzalez called B.S. and became the face of a growing national movement, other Latina activists had a huge hand in changing the course of our history.

Here’s a look at seven of some of history’s most powerful Latina activists who led marches and fought for your civil rights.

Sylvia Mendez

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When it comes to the desegregation of schools in the country, American history often credits the case of Brown v. Board of Education for the changes. Barbara Rose Johns is also the one who is most typically considered to be the face of that movement after she led a 450-student walkout at a high school in Virginia in 1951.

But history has largely written out the work of Sylvia Mendez an American civil rights activists of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent who played a key role in the integration movement back in 1946.

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Mendez v. Westminster was a case sparked by Mendez’s rejection from an all-white school in California back in 1943 when she was just eight years old. Mendez’s parents sued the school district and the landmark case which was ultimately settled in 1947 successfully desegregated public schools  in California making it the first U.S. state to do so.

Dolores Huerta

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As a fierce civil rights activist and labor leader, Dolores Huerta became a tireless advocate of the United Farm Workers union. The American-born Latina of Mexican descent originally started out her career as an elementary school teacher. After seeing kids in her class come to school hungry and in need of new shoes, she decided she would help organize their parents.

She started to fight for economic improvements for Latino farm workers and pressed local government organizations to improve barrio conditions.

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In 1962, she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (now known as the United Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee) with César Chávez. Her non-violent strikes and protests led to her 22 arrests. In 1997 she was named one of the three most important women of the year in by Ms. magazine.

Carmen Perez

Noam Galai/WireImage

In 2017, Perez helped lead the country in its largest protest in U.S. history as a co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington.

In her 20 year career as an activist, Perez has dedicated her advocacy to some of today’s most important civil rights issues including violence against women, mass incarceration, gender inequality and community policing.

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Before the Women’s March she helped launch a 9-day 250-mile march from New York City to Washington, DC called March2Justice which implored congressional lawmakers to turn their attention to the nation’s police justice crisis.

Berta Cáceres

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Best known for leading a campaign that opposed a dam on the Gualcarque River, Cáceres was an award-winning Indigenous environmental activist. In 2015, the Honduran environmentalist received the Goldman Environmental Prize for helming the grassroots effort that pushed the world’s largest dam builder to stop the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam at the Río Gualcarque.

Because of her efforts the river that was saved and considered to be sacred by the Lenca people, was still able to provide the nearby tribe access to water, food, and medicine.

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On March 3, 2016, Berta Cáceres was assassinated for her activism when two assailants broke into her home and shot her. Her murder sparked international outrage and brought attention to the fact that Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world for activists who fight to protect forests and rivers.

The Mirabal Sisters

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Patria, Dedé, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal were four sisters from the Dominican Republic who ferociously opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and became known as Las Mariposas. In 1959, after witnessing a = massacre executed by the Trujillo regime the sisters were sparked into activism and rallied communities into public protests that renounced Trujillo’s rule.

Three of the sisters, Minerva, María Teresa, and Patria, were murdered for their advocacy when they were beaten to death by associates of the government.

historiadeellas / Instagram

Following the death of Las Mariposas, Dominicans across the island decided they had had enough. Six months later, Trujillo’s dictatorship was brought down when he was assassinated.

Sylvia Rivera 

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Well before activists like Harvey Milk and figures like Caitlyn Jenner made waves, there was Sylvia Rivera. The Latina born and raised in New York City had Puerto Rican and Venezuelan roots and a tragic story when she first began to carve out a place for trans people in the American gay liberation movement. 

Rivera was a self-identified drag queen and transwoman who participated in the Stonewall riots of 1969 and soon after founded Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Marsha P. Johnson.

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In 1970 she led trans activists in the country’s first Gay Pride march, then known as Christopher Street Liberation Day March and in the years after she delivered fervent speeches that called for the support of LGBTQ people of color and who were homeless.

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