Last Wednesday, our nation was shook when it was announced that 14 black and latina girls had gone missing in one day in Washington D.C. Although this news turned out to be misinterpreted, it brings an important conversation to the table.
Do the lives and struggles of young girls of color go unnoticed?
Even though the 14 girls did not all go missing on the same day in D.C. There were still 14 missing black and latina girls. I don’t know about you, but that is 14 more than I am comfortable with.
While some of these girls may be repeat runaways, it should not detract from the core of this problem. The core being that our communities may not be doing enough to support our young black and latina girls.
A New York Times article about the missing girls states the following:
According to a 2016 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 percent of runaways and homeless youth report being having been physically abused, 38 percent report being emotionally abused and 17 percent report being forced into unwanted sexual activity with a relative or member of their household. Claims that black girls leave home voluntarily, if not coupled with an examination of all the reasons they might feel they need to leave, encourage the public to see black girls not as children in need of protection but adults responsible for their own predicament. As a result, few in authority do anything for them.
We need to stand up for our girls and give them the support and love they need to thrive in society. Polished Pebbles has continually stated that black girls live in the same neighborhoods and witness the same violence as black boys, yet do not receive the same supports. We have to ask ourselves why: Why have the struggles of black girls and women stayed under the radar for so long?
And what can we do to change that?
We need local and national advocates for girls and women of color in the United States. Simply advocating for the rights of women does not account for the complex struggles facing women of color. We cannot forget intersectionality of identity, which needs to be reflected in mainstream feminism. And of course, all change can start with you. You can change the narrative surrounding young girls of color. You can be that spark and voice that keeps them safe and thriving.
Only with a collaborative, nation-wide effort can we raise these issues from underground. Give light to our girls. Because only together can she shine!