The pair are among the supporters in a growing movement that have signed a letter to Mr. Obama, urging him involve women and girls of color in the initiative. Thus far, more than 1,000 women and girls have signed the letter, titled “Why We Can’t Wait: Women of Color Urge Inclusion in ‘My Brother’s Keeper.’”
The inclusion of females in the MBK initiative would reinforce president Obama’s focus on expanding opportunity for each and every American by increasing opportunity for women and girls. Evidence of this is found in the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the creation of the first ever White House Council on Women and Girls.
In May, the council hosted more than 100 researchers, policy advocates, business leaders, members of the media and others as part of the first White House Research Conference on Girls. From there, the council launched the Girls Research Coalition and the Girls Research Portal, both of which strive to make research about girls more accessible.
“We cannot pass the burden of invisibility to yet another generation of our girls of color, “ organizer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, said in a press release. “When we see the challenges they face and actually listen to what they say, how can anyone who loves our daughters as much as our sons say, ‘No, you must wait.’ Our girls need to know they are supported and loved, and that we are working to remove the obstacles that undermine their well being as much as the boys. How can we in good conscience do anything less?”
The following are parts of the letter that was signed by various supporters and sent to President Obama. Among the issues touched on are the disproportionate risk of sexual assault or rape, disproportionate access to education and disproportionate compensation for jobs.
“Those who have justified the exclusive gender focus of MBK often remind us that male youth of color are like the miner’s canary: their plight warns us that something is wrong in the mine. Indeed, something is desperately wrong when so many of our youth are falling victim to the consequences of punitive discipline, underfunded schools, poor job prospects, declining investments in public space, decreasing access to higher education and worsening prospects on the job market.
“Clearly American society continues to be a toxic environment for many of our young people. Yet male-exclusive initiatives seem to lose sight of the implications of the canary’s distress: It is not a signal that only male canaries are suffering. It makes no sense to equip the canary with a mentor, a gas mask and or some other individual-level support while leaving the mine as it is and expecting the females to fend for themselves. If the air is toxic, it is toxic for everyone forced to breathe it.
“…Our daughters are ignored and under-researched. Although the exclusion of girls has been justified as data-driven, the fact is that little data is gathered on them. This situation creates a vicious cycle in which the assumptions that girls are not in crisis leads to research and policy interventions that overlook them, thus reinforcing their exclusion from efforts like MBK to bring successful programs to scale. MBK is not only built on this foundation, but extends it further by failing to require the inter-agency task force to report data that address the well-being of girls of color as well as boys. This erasure simply adds to the crisis that girls of color face, forcing them to suffer in relative silence.”
To read the letter in full and see the signatures of support, click here.