This Organization Is Encouraging Young Black & Brown Girls To Run For Political Positions

The November 7 elections this year overwhelmingly proved the diversity of America, and that we are ready to see a new kind of political representation at all levels. The most notable wins, as talked about by multiple press outlets, were those of black and brown women, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants and young men and women. Yet, when we look at the makeup of US Congress, it is overwhelmingly white, straight and male. Clearly our government is not fully representing Americans, but that is slowly changing.

With organizations such as Emily’s List who have been supporting female candidates since 1985, and newer orgs such as Vote Run Lead, and She Should Run, for example, there has never been a better moment in our history to champion previously underrepresented minorities for political office. But it’s not just candidate-ready individuals we should be paying attention to or supporting. There are organizations who are helping raise the next generation of political and social leadership.

One which we recently came across is The Brotherhood Sister Sol, based out of NYC, that has been around since 1995. This support organization works with mostly black and brown youth ages 8 to 22, and focuses on issues such as leadership development and educational achievement, sexual responsibility, sexism and misogyny, political education and social justice. The impact Bro/Sis has had on their community is indisputable, and a good reason why we need to be paying attention to and supporting orgs like this.

On the homepage of their website they share some astounding statistics. In West Harlem, only 42% of youth graduate form high school, and less that 34% of black males graduate in 4 years. However, 90% of Bro/Sis alumni have graduated from high school. In Harlem the teenage pregnancy rate is 15%, but the teen pregnancy rate among Bro/Sis alumni is less than 2%.

In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, Associate Executive Director of Bro/Sis Cidra M. Sebastien talks about the holistic approach the organization takes to encouraging especially young black girls of their worth, and how the recent November 7 elections, reminding her of her childhood seeing Shirley Chisholm launch her Congressional and Presidential campaigns in the 1970s, are a signal to society that we should be investing in minority youth.

“Despite successes like three Congressional women getting in formation to create the first Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, and the local and national impact of New York City’s Young Women’s Initiative, there are still so many spaces in which girls of color are shortchanged. Even more marginalized and discounted are our gender non-conforming youth of color and transgender girls of color,” she writes.

“The headlines from this month’s mid-term elections reminded me of my childhood inspiration. These recent local and federal wins across the country may not only create a sense of hope but also be a call to action to young people to do more in the space of civic engagement and leadership.”

Although the current Congress is the most racially diverse, as touted by news media headlines, the numbers show we still have a long way to go. Only 4 women of color are serving in the Senate (Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, Kamala Harris, D- California, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada). Out of the 435 House of Representative members, currently only 84 are women, and 34 of those are women of color. Yet women are 50% of the US population. This huge representative disconnect between our federal leadership and citizenry has a major impact on the types of policies that get passed (just look at what is coming out of the GOP-controlled Congress and the current Trump administration) and disproportionately affects minorities.

This is why a pipeline organization like Bro/Sis is vitally important if we are ever going to see change. With an emphasis on social justice, community and transformation through political education, the youth of color participating in the program learn how valuable and needed they are in society.

“They learn about the legacy of political leaders and freedom fighters, artists and entrepreneurs, innovators and scholars. Our Liberation Program takes self-identified youth leaders through summer and year-long trainings to learn about the history of social justice movements in the U.S. and around the world. They are also actively engaged in creating change on issues that directly impact them such as policing, immigration policies and education. They build with youth leaders locally, present at convenings and learn from leaders in spaces such as last month’s Women’s Convention. They are developing their voices, finding strength in their identity, and stepping into their capability as brilliant change-makers,” described Cidra.

Girls at Bro/Sis learn that they can take up space in the world, they can ask questions, and raise their voices to be heard. With cultural turning points such as the #MeToo movement in the wake of multiple sexual assault allegations, and the uprising of women running for office since the Women’s March, we are witnessing an exciting shift in the status quo, and it is about damn time.

“Our pipeline for girls to become leaders is essential and intentional. That we are still counting and cheering political firsts is testimony of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. I do believe that in the near future we will see the names of our young women and alumni members on local and national ballots. I gladly await voting for them because they got next,” writes Cidra.

If you are energized by the recent November 7 elections, the Women’s March from January 21, and the increase in activism after the Presidential election, consider supporting an organization like The Brotherhood-Sister Sol and be part of helping to foster the next generation of leaders of color across America.



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