Why I Went on Jeopardy


This week I am a contestant on Jeopardy! Admittedly, it is not quite the real Jeopardy!—with its brutally difficult and obscure answers. This is 2016 Power Players week, in which a somewhat more approachable version of the beloved game is played by a motley crew of elected officials, journalists, political pundits, and brainy celebs.

You can catch me tomorrow, when I’ll be playing to support Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women.

I first met Joanne Smith, GGE’s founder and executive director, when we served together on a panel commemorating the impactful testimony of professor Anita Hill. During that event, I heard Joanne discuss the powerful vision she was pursuing along with her small staff at GGE. Their work amplifies the voices of girls of color in New York public schools, ensures accountability in those schools, and allows young women to be authors of their own futures.

But my Jeopardy! appearance is not the biggest thing happening at GGE this week. Girls for Gender Equity was instrumental in helping the City Council of New York establish a working group focused on young women’s issues. That group, called the Young Women’s Initiative, released a major new report this week. The report is premised on a simple but revolutionary idea: produce an agenda addressing the lives and needs of young women and girls in New York City. It includes more than 100 recommendations across five issue areas: health, economic and workforce development, community support and opportunity, education, and anti-violence and criminal justice. It is truly groundbreaking because it relies on young women to identify their own challenges and the solutions to those challenges. In a press release, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called YWI “the first coalition in the United States to tackle the systemic gender-based inequality.”

Read the full Op-Ed in Elle.

New Report: Fight for Our Girls

Through this series, Fight for Our Girls, the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare seeks to radically shift the narrative surrounding girls of color and status offenses from a focus on delinquency and misbehavior to structural discrimination, trauma and youth well-being. Released over the next year, the series of briefs will promote programs, policies and initiatives aimed at developing a trauma-informed approach to addressing status offenses and supporting the ability of girls of color to thrive.

The briefs in this series will:

  • Unpack the role that trauma plays in girls of color committing status offenses
  • Dissect structural misogynoir (combined racial and gender bias) in system decision-making and explore promising practices in addressing the needs of girls of color
  • Explore the intersections between race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity for girls of color facing intervening public system involvement due to status offenses
  • Develop a set of trauma-informed recommendations useful to states and jurisdictions working to support the ability of girls of color involved in intervening public systems to thrive

Read the first brief and stay tuned to cssp.org for series updates.

NC State Backs Effort to Advance Equity in Research

NC State is one of more than 30 institutions that have joined the collaborative, a voluntary affiliation of universities, colleges, seminaries, research agencies and other organizations. Created by the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, and in conjunction with the White House Council on Women and Girls, the collaborative addresses a call for action voiced at a White House forum in November 2015. A related report by the White House Council on Women and Girls was also released in November.

The collaborative says that while women of color will constitute more than half of the entire United States female population by 2050, they are infrequently the central subjects of academic research. That deficit, the group says, has meaningful consequences for public discourse and policymaking.

NYWF’s report on girls and young women

The New York Women’s Foundation’s Blueprint for Investing in Women series comprises of four reports that explore the position, strengths, needs, and best strategies for promoting the economic security of NYC women, across the full span of their lifetimes. In line with NYWF’s core mission, the series particularly focuses on the situations of women whose opportunities for progress are limited by outside factors or attitudes related to initial economic position, race, immigration status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.

The goals of the series are to: (1) broaden understanding of the roles and issues of the city’s low-income girls and women; (2) stimulate broad, productive discussion of how best to both support those roles and address those issues; and (3) catalyze bold investment by all stakeholders capable of expanding relevant opportunities and resources.

Read the full report.