What We Risk When We Fail to Protect Black Girls

Last month, the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly elevated the claims against the R&B singer as a serial abuser of women and girls. Kelly was charged in Illinois on Friday with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

But what also became apparent from the docuseries was the number of adults—from Kelly’s manager to parents of the minors he is believed to have violated—who were complicit in his systematic abuse of underage Black girls. Beyond the pain his alleged victims suffered, the docuseries highlighted that these girls were not afforded the protection they deserve as children, much like Black girls at large.

Such disregard for Black girls and women’s safety has public health consequences. Notably, emerging research implicates this systematic lack of protection in the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Black girls and women. This was also evident in the docuseries: One woman said she acquired an STI from Kelly.

Read more at Rewire News

How the StrongBlackWoman impacts black girls’ access to mental health services

In the twenty-first century, adolescent mental health is frequently discussed in the media and within educational institutions. The increase in the number of school shootings, bullying incidents and escalation of suicide rates have brought mental health awareness to the forefront. There has been a cooperative effort from educators, social workers, and healthcare professionals to make mental health resources available for all students. However, the accessibility and types of resources available are inequitable. I argue, that the StrongBlackWoman trope creates challenges for black girls and women in accessing mental health services.

To begin, I want to define the term StrongBlackWoman which I first read about in the book Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability by Stephanie Y. Evans, Kanika Bell and Nsenga K. Burton. In the chapter “When the Bough Breaks: The StrongBlackWoman and the Embodiment of Stress” author Chanequa Walker-Barnes uses research from black feminists before her to define what the StrongBlackWoman is. Specifically, she describes the StrongBlackWoman as “a totalitarian and culturally prescriptive identity characterized by three core features: emotional strength/regulation, caregiving, and independence” (Evans et. al 44). I will be using this definition of a StrongBlackWoman because of the significance in the omission of spacing between the words and its recognition of key characteristics black women practice.

Read more at the Western Union Gazette

An Exploratory Essay Confronting the Issues Involving Children with Incarceration Parents and How to Break the Cycle

As a child, my mother would stand on the porch of the third floor projects in the St. Bernard Housing Development and scream my name when it was time to come inside. Worried about what was waiting in the hallways leading to our apartment, she would meet me half way to ensure my safety. You see, trauma was normal growing up, but the hardest part was finding the best way to deal with it.

This November, I’ll be thirty-five years old. To some, it is a time to celebrate, but for me, it is the time I fight to hold back tears because it means another year my dad has been incarcerated. For thirty-five years, I have been denied the opportunity to wake up and say, “Good morning, Daddy,” and “Have a great day.” Instead, I have repeatedly heard, “You have a collect call from an inmate at a Louisiana State Prison.” I have spent my life with my dad behind bars, trying to raise me as if he were present in my life. I cannot tell you what it is like to have dinner with my dad or to attend an event with him. I was never afforded that opportunity.

These are my words and my thoughts on breaking the cycle that children of incarcerated parents often face in New Orleans and how it affected me personally. In addition, this essay will argue for the critical role city and state officials, along with community leaders, have in providing solutions to end the trauma that children with incarcerated parents face. More importantly, this essay provides guidance on how to break the cycle of broken families in New Orleans.

Read more at Loyola Law Review. 

So, Here’s the Thing About Young Black Girls Who Only Play With White Dolls

Research confirms that brown skin girls that only play with white dolls often grow up thinking that being “white” is beautiful, and that being “black” or “brown” is ugly!

And it’s the same for young girls that only play with dolls with straight hair… They often grow up believing that “straight” hair is beautiful, but “kinky” or “natural” hair is not attractive!

But there is an easy way to save young Black girls from this epidemic! Black parents can start buying their children dolls that make them proud of who they are… dolls with a beautiful brown skin tone, and kinky or natural hair — dolls that look like them!

Read more at The Dallas Weekly.

I Stayed Silent Because Black Girls and Women Aren’t Listened To

“The Senate confirms Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”

My Uber driver read his CNN text alert aloud and made this unsolicited announcement as we sat in bumper to bumper traffic.

My entire body tensed up. I wanted to escape—escape this Uber, escape this country, escape this body, but instead, I sat in silence. The same silence I’ve been sitting in for the past five years.

Before 2018, I had no idea who Brett Kavanaugh was. Before Dr. Ford brought allegations of sexual assault against him, I wasn’t particularly interested in his confirmation. I figured any one of Trump’s nominations to the Supreme Court would be about the same—white, male, and willing to pass legislation that harms Black women like myself.

Read more at WearYourVoice Magazine.

5 Things to Know About Girls on International Day of the Girl

October 11 is International Day of the Girl — a day that has two meanings. Established by the United Nations in 2011, the day is designed to highlight the accomplishments of girls across the world and promote their empowerment, but also to shine light on the myriad issues and challenges unique to girls. The day uplifts the advancements girls have made in STEM fields, the movements forged by young women, and the young voices speaking up for change, while still acknowledging that we have a long way to go before girls and femmes are afforded the same opportunities, safety, and value that boys are.

In honor of girls everywhere, this is what you need to know about being a girl in the world right now:

Learn more at Teen Vogue.

We Believe Survivors: A Shared Message by the Ms. Foundation for Women

We believe survivors.

The past few weeks have been deeply painful. We know the barrage of victim-blaming coming from Trump’s administration is excruciating for many of us. We want to take a moment to acknowledge the heaviness and sorrow that many of us are holding as a result of personal and collective traumas. Women have been doing what we always do; putting our stories, bodies, and safety on the line in service of changing our community.

Let us be crystal clear: We believe Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick. We believe the countless women of color who are survivors of gender-based violence whose stories go untold.

We want to thank you for your committed to our movement and ask you to take good care of yourself during this time. Should you find yourself overwhelmed by the news cycle and social commentary of gender-based violence, here are a few things you can do for self-care:

  • Unplug: As much as you can, eliminate the risk of triggering content by taking a break from social media.
  • Check in with your body: Take a few moments each day to slowly inhale and exhale and scan your body to determine if you are carrying pain or tension anyway. Make a plan to address any discomfort in your body, however, makes sense for you. Don’t forget to drink water.
  • Connect with your community: Take time to reach out to people you trust, have a meal with friends, and spend time enjoying community connection to remind yourself you are not alone.

In the meantime, we will not stop funding grassroots organizations and leaders who attack the blight of sexual violence until we have communities free of this threat.

Take good care of yourself,
Ms. Foundation for Women

Justice Dept., in DC Circuit, Denies ‘Undue Burden’ on Immigrant Girls Seeking Abortions

An earlier ruling from Brett Kavanaugh against a pregnant immigrant teenager became a flashpoint for his views on the lawfulness of the right to an abortion.

A U.S. Justice Department lawyer, arguing Wednesday for the Trump administration, rejected claims that the government has imposed any “undue burden” on the ability of pregnant, undocumented minors from having access to abortions while in government custody.

Read more at The National Law Journal.

Immigrants, Fearing Trump Crackdown, Drop Out of Nutrition Programs

Both documented and undocumented immigrants fear that accepting federal aid could make them ineligible for a green card if rules are changed.

Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.

The Trump administration hasn’t officially put the policy in place yet, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.

Read more at Politico.

A 5-Year-Old Girl in Immigrant Detention Nearly Died of an Untreated Ruptured Appendix

The death of a Guatemalan child soon after leaving immigration detention made national news this week amid speculation that conditions in detention were responsible for her demise. It is not clear why 19-month-old Mariee Juárez became fatally ill, or if she suffered medical neglect at the South Texas Residential Center, the family detention center better known as “Dilley.” Her family alleges that Mariee became ill due to unsafe conditions and died as a result of medical neglect.

At a different South Texas detention center, another young Guatemalan child recently came down with a common illness that is easy to identify in its early stages but which can kill if not diagnosed and treated. Treatment was delayed for days, however, and the delay put the little girl’s life at risk. And less than three months before that little girl became sick, a Honduran man who spent time at the same facility died from a life-threatening illness that was not diagnosed.

The child and the man were locked up at the infamous Border Patrol detention center in McAllen, Texas, where immigrants are kept for a few days before they are transported to long-term detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The McAllen center is notorious for putting detainees in cage-like rooms and, during the recent “zero tolerance” period, for separating parents from their children. Immigrants know it as “the icebox” and “the dog pound.”

Read more at The Intercept.