What does it say about America’s concern for Black girls when all national and philanthropic $$$ are focused on Black boys? A cursory google search for “philanthropic support for black males” returns search results with literally thousands of articles and initiatives and “philanthropic support for black girls” return crickets. The White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; CLASP’s Investing in Boys and Men of Color: The Promise and Opportunity; Open Society Foundation’s Black Male Achievement; WK Kellogg Foundation’s Our Sons Our Future Our Narrative; Embracing Young Males of Color Convening in Mississippi and the John S and James L Knight Foundation’s Black Male Engagement are some of the philanthropic efforts aimed at addressing the issues facing Black boys in America.
Although money is going to charities and not mass movements for justice, it still says something about how we think of Black girls, when none of this money is going to programs that work with them. Why aren’t Black girls worthy of concern and philanthropic support, no matter how superficial? There are many problems with philanthropy, including foundations as a tax shelter for the wealthy, co-optation of social movements, and the ethical quandary of asking money from the very people who contributed to the systemic problems we are trying to solve, but real money is going to real organizations and people, and with a philanthropic landscape that already gives very little money to issues affecting Black people, this just pushes black girls further into the margins.
Do people think that black girls suffer from less systemic oppression than boys and men? Although the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative perpetuates the notion that the issues Black boys face are because of making bad choices rooted in not having a father in the home, instead of systemic oppression that informs the “choices” they have to choose from, the initiative at least shows a concern for the welfare of Black boys, and not including Black girls gives them the message that they don’t matter, from the highest office in the country. Black girls face oppression, violence, and injustice not only from the criminal justice system, education system, the state (public benefits, child welfare), and the medical industry, but also from individuals and institutions in our own communities, resulting in almost half of Black girls experiencing sexual violence by the age of 18, Black women experiencing domestic violence at a rate 3 times that of white women; Black girls being suspended or expelled the most out of all students, including Black boys.
This is not about pitting Black girls against Black boys and arguing about who is more important; this is about equitable and fair distribution of resources in addressing the issues that impact both groups; its about racial, gender and economic justice for black people. The African American Policy Forum is a leader in the struggle to educate the public about the oppression facing Black girls, particularly in schools. They released a heartbreaking report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Over-policed and Underprotected, that documented the racist and sexist oppression Black girls face in schools that lead them to being pushed out and/or criminalized. We need to heed their demand in supporting our girls; they need us!