The power of Hispanic and Latinx girls’ leadership
During National Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the year, Grantmakers for Girls of Color is committed to uplifting the power of Hispanic and Latinx girls and gender-expansive youth to create change. The wisdom and leadership of our Hispanic and Latinx girls has never been more needed.
One remarkable leader we want to lift up today is Sylvia Mendez. As an eight-year-old girl, Ms. Mendez’s desire to attend the best school in her area was the catalyst for the 1947 landmark legal case Mendez v. Westminster, which then paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education to ban segregation of American public schools seven years later. After a career as a pediatric nurse, Ms. Mendez devoted her life to telling the story of her family and the legacy of Mendez v. Westminster. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her advocacy to ensure educational opportunity and access for children of all backgrounds and walks of life.
There are girls like Sylvia Mendez in each of our communities. According to a recently published study, Ready to Lead: Leadership Barriers and Supports for Black and Latinx girls, 36 percent of Latinx girls identify with the statement “I am a leader.” Despite the fact that Latinx girls are identifying themselves as leaders and engaging in leadership in their homes, schools, and communities, they continue to experience underinvestment and erasure. Alianza for Youth Justice recently reported that many Latinx and Hispanic youth are not appropriately counted or recognized in data about the juvenile justice system. Consequently, Hispanic, Latinx, Afro-Latinx, and Chicanx girls and gender-expansive youth are left out of investment in strategies to address structural violence impacting girls of color.
In recent years we’ve seen Hispanic and Latinx communities being vilified, terrorized, and abused by those with power in our government, and we’ve also seen the amazing power of girls in these communities to resist, rise up, and claim power. Supporting the leadership of Hispanic and Latinx girls–like Sylvia Mendez many years ago–is essential for our collective liberation.
Today, we are shining light on some of our many incredible grantee partners who use community, culture, music, advocacy, education, and art, to support Hispanic and Latinx girls and gender-expansive youth.
Alliance for Girls
→ Alliance for Girls is the largest alliance of girls’ organizations in the country. They are currently working with a number of other girl-serving organizations to map the impacts of COVID-19 on girls of color, including Latinx/Chicanx/Hispanic girls/femmes/gender expansive youth.
Chicas Rockeras South East Los Angeles
→ Chicas Rockeras promotes healing, growth, and confidence for girls and gender expansive youth through music education while building self-esteem and encouraging group collaboration.
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
→ Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement works at local and national levels to achieve the collective liberation of trans, queer, and gender nonconforming Latinxs through building community, organizing, advocacy, and education.
National Compadres Network
→ The mission of the National Compadres Network is to strengthen and re-root the capacity of individuals, families and communities to honor, rebalance, and redevelop the authentic identity, values, traditions and indigenous practices of Chicano, Latino, Native, Raza and other communities of color as the path to the honoring of all their relations and lifelong well being.
→ National Crittenton advocates for social, economic, and political justice with and for girls, young women, and gender-expansive young people impacted by chronic adversity, violence, and oppression. They are currently working with a number of other girl-serving organizations to map the impacts of COVID-19 on girls of color, including Latinx/Chicanx/Hispanic girls/femmes/gender expansive youth.
→ Oliver Scholars prepares high-achieving Black and Latinx students from underserved New York City communities for success at top independent schools and prestigious colleges. They provide crucial support for our Scholars so they can realize their full potential and ultimately give back to the city, the nation, and the world.
→ The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities.
Young Women Empowered
→ Young Women Empowered cultivates the power of diverse young women* to be creative leaders and courageous changemakers through transformative programs within a collaborative community of belonging.
Young Women’s Freedom Center
→ Young Women’s Freedom Center (YWFC) is a leadership and advocacy organization led by systems-involved young and adult women and transgender gender non-conforming (TGNC) people of color who have grown up in poverty, worked in the underground street economy, and have been criminalized by social services such as foster care, welfare, and the mental health systems.
These are just a few examples of the many important organizations serving Hispanic and Latinx girls and gender expansive youth that we actively urge our funding partners to learn more about and support.
Look for us to continue to uplift these organizations, and related events and research, on our G4GC social media accounts. If you are hosting an event or creating a resource related to National Hispanic Heritage Month that you’d like our assistance uplifting, let us know.
Monique W. Morris, Ed.D.
Grantmakers for Girls of Color