Not all girl scouts are concerned with peddling shortbread cookies. There’s one troop of young girls in Oakland that discusses matters of racial inequality and wear brown berets in an homage to radical civil rights groups.
The girls, ages 8-12, are part of the “Radical Brownies,” an edgier, younger version of the Girl Scouts, where girls earn badges for completing workshops on social protests, and a beauty workshop that celebrate racial diversity.
Radical Brownies is dedicated to providing young girls of color relevant life experiences, explains the group’s co-founder Anayvette Martinez.
Martinez, a community organizer, created the Radical Brownies with Marilyn Hollinquest because “there aren’t enough spaces [for young girls of color] in our society.” The Radical Brownies of Oakland launched last month and already includes 12 girls. All the members are girls of color or mixed-race. The Radical Brownies are not affiliated with the Girl Scouts of the USA.
The founders say once the program expands to multiple chapters the organization will be open to everybody, but the program will always remain focused on young girls of color.
In the Radical Brownies, girls learn about social justice movements such the Black Panthers and the Chicano group Brown Berets. They wear their brown berets in homage to those two groups. But they also study how Disney princesses define girls’ image of beauty, and how that can affect self-image.
The Radical Brownies have their own badge system, including one for “Radical Beauty” and an “LGBT ally” badge. The girls also earned a “Black Lives Matter” badge after learning about police accountability and attending a civil rights march in Oakland.
“I think it’s never too early to have these conversations with young people,” Martinez told Fusion.
“Children are more aware than we think; it’s important to not shelter children from real issues that we’re living,” she said. “It’s especially important for young girls of color to feel empowered.”
The troop is ready to attend more protest and will soon launch a fundraising campaign on their Facebook page to raise money for a banner and a megaphone.