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.

 

I work with children separated from caregivers at the border. What happens is unforgivable.

Helplessness. It’s what I feel when children are faced with forced separation from their parent or caregiver at the US border. Anger, sadness, uncertainty, and dismay all follow closely behind.

I work as an attorney with an organization called Kids in Need of Defense, or KIND, devoted to working with unaccompanied children. I hear firsthand stories that illustrate the severe impact of family separation on children; to say they are terrorized and completely devastated is an understatement. This new terror is compounded by the trauma already experienced by these children — the violence, persecution, and other harm they faced in their home country that caused them to seek protection in the US in the first place.

Read more at Vox

Black Girls Equity Alliance wants Pittsburgh Public Schools to improve its sexual harassment prevention and response

While #MeToo put a spotlight on sexual harassment, most of the conversation has been about adults in the workplace, said Sara Goodkind, a member of the Black Girls Equity Alliance in Pittsburgh.

“Many adults aren’t aware of what’s happening to girls at school,” she said, later adding, “Patterns start somewhere.”

In an effort to inform and collaborate with the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors, alliance members plan to give a letter to the the board at its Monday public hearing, where students will speak.

The alliance — which was born of research efforts at Gwen’s Girls, a nonprofit focused on at-risk girls ages 8 to 18 — includes individuals, organizations and institutions working to end inequities affecting black girls in Allegheny County. Among those issues is the way schools prevent and respond to sexual assault, said alliance member Britney Brinkman, an associate professor in counseling psychology at Chatham University.

Read the full story at The Incline

Anxiety Epidemic Envelopes San Francisco Girls

For the past three years, Dr. Andrea Zorbas has worked at the San Francisco Stress and Anxiety Center located South-of-Market, providing psychological counseling for adults. According to Zorbas, her clients, who often come with “career-related” worries, “all have an undergraduate degree, and most have a postgraduate degree,” and largely work in the tech industry.

Before moving to private practice, however, Zorbas spent a decade treating adolescents from low-income neighborhoods around the Bay Area, including two years at the KIPP Bayview Academy, a charter school for grades five through eight with a 48 percent African-American student population. She simultaneously managed a caseload of Bayview teenagers on probation for Urban Services YMCA. Among her patients, she recalled “high anxiety, high levels of depression and hopelessness,” and, frequently, post-traumatic stress disorder, owing to “the continual community violence that was happening, whether that was families being robbed or gun violence.” She found girls especially vulnerable, searching for “safety and security” that was sometimes impossible to find.

Zorbas’s patient population faced “all the standard challenges of low-income families,” trials that were amplified as San Francisco’s cost of living steadily increased. “Often families in the Bayview have been there for generations; people often know each other. And now the Bayview is starting to be gentrified, so families are then starting to get kicked out,” she said. “The disparity in the City is so extreme. Here we have these new tech guys moving into the Bayview, like 24-year-olds making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then you have generations of families there just scraping by, and it’s this really odd dichotomy. My kids were already facing a lot of different levels of oppression,” but the presence of these newcomers “threw it in their face a little bit.”

As the neighborhood changed, a new type of anxiety emerged among Zorbas’s teenagers, revolving around a fear of gentrification and displacement. “When you grow up in an unsafe environment, you become hypervigilant about what’s going on in the community, so when you see a dilapidated house next door getting sold for a couple million dollars, you’re thinking, ‘OK, when is my landlord going to kick us out so they can do the exact same thing?’” she posited. “You’re just on edge. Are you going to be able to stay in San Francisco? Are you going to be homeless? That was absolutely on their minds. They get anxious about it because their parents are anxious about it.”…

For some San Francisco kids, global problems have a less abstract impact on their lives, according to Dr. Marina Tolou-Shams, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who leads the Division of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. “Our population at SF General is a MediCal population, and it is predominantly communities of color, primarily Latino, Spanish-speaking,” she said. “I think what we’re seeing here is a very heightened sense of anxiety, particularly as it relates to immigration issues and the social and political climate of our country right now, and families being torn apart. So, for these young girls who are actually threatened with the loss of a primary caregiver in the home, this is really triggering even more anxiety and difficulty attending school because of fear of separation or because of fear that someone’s not going to be there when you go home.”

Tolou-Shams spoke of “the fear of just being Latino in this day and age” and observed that “it’s something that prior to recently we did not hear Latina girls talking about as much.”

Read the full article in the Potrero View.

Bay Area Breaking The Silence Town Hall On Girls & Women of Color Returns To Oakland

On September 23, 2017, Omi Gallery at Impact Hub Oakland in partnership with the Bay Area Breaking the Silence program committee will host the second annual Bay Area Breaking The Silence Town Hall on Girls & Women of Color. The second convening builds upon national conversations and policy-driven campaigns to end the violence against Black women that led the way for the 2016 convening. This year’s Town Hall issues a call to action to address the needs of all cis and trans girls and women of color in the San Francisco Bay Area. In a powerful day of action and restoration for *Girls and women of color, the Town Hall will lift up their experiences across four areas: gentrification, education, violence, and health/healing.

The Town Hall will provide an important convening space for cis and trans girls and women of color across the Bay Area to share their experiences in each area with community members and local decision makers. By elevating the voices of girls and women of color and centering their leadership, the Town Hall aims to creatively and collectively identify opportunities for intervention and community transformation. The specific purpose of this year’s gathering is to propose concrete recommendations to create a Commission on cis/trans women and girls of color for the City of Oakland, the epicenter for social change. Stewarded by City Councilmember Annie Campbell-Washington and cultural strategist/Co-Founder of Impact Hub Oakland, Ashara Ekundayo, the Commission aims to mentor and increase political literacy and policy change that supports leadership and well-being Oakland’s girls and women. See video footage from the BTS2016 here.

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.