'Radical Brownies' Group Emphasizes Social Justice
Credit: Image by Julio Salgado
January 30, 2015

In addition to the community involvement, they also do crafts and other fun projects. Won't this make wingnut heads explode!

When Marilyn Hollinquest was a child, she struggled to understand injustice she experienced in her community. “I was not equipped with the tools that would help me understand and contribute to equality for all people,” she told NewsHour.

As an adult, Hollinquest’s friend Anayvette Martinez had a daughter struggling with the same issues. “I saw the need for a group that would empower and encourage her to form bonds of sisterhood with other girls in her community,” Martinez said on Facebook.

“I began to imagine what a radical young girl’s social justice troop looked like,” Martinez wrote, “a group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood.”

Martinez approached Hollinquest with a vision for such a group in 2014, and the Radical Brownies were born. The inaugural chapter was established in Oakland, California, and is open to young girls of color between the ages of 8 and 12.

The group’s mission statement describes the Radical Brownies as a group that empowers young girls of color “so that they step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place.”

The uniform includes a beret to “pay homage to the spirits of the Brown Beret and Black Panther movements of the past,” according to the group’s website.

Although Hollinquest said she has respect for what the Girl Scouts do, the Radical Brownies are not affiliated with the national group. So instead of badges for camping skills and cookie selling, the girls can earn a radical beauty badge, a food justice badge, and a radical self-love badge, among others.

Hollinquest says that at their first meeting, the leaders allowed the girls to define the word radical for themselves. “For us, radical means [being a] fierce community advocate,” she said of the group.

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