The Radical Brownies are a group for young girls ages eight to eleven, out of Oakland, California. According to their Facebook page they are not associated with the Girl Scouts of America, but they seek to empower young girls of color to step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership to make the world a more radical place. Does this Brownie group sound like something you would want your daughter to get involved with? That seems to be the question that is being asked by parents, social activists, and the media as this group gains world-wide attention. The Inquisitr reported that requests to start sister groups have already come in from as far away as France.
The founders of the Radical Brownies are Marilyn Hollinquest and her friend Anayvette Martinez. The group was formed when Martinez’s daughter Coatlupe told her that she wanted to join a girls group. Martinez had a thought about starting a group where the girls could learn about social justice and even earn badges.
The uniforms the girls wear are even sending a strong message. They wear a beret, it’s a Black Panther/Brown Beret twist, says one of the Radical Brownies.
“I think it’s very appropriate. A lot of the work the Black Panthers did was community oriented,” Radical Brownies co-founder Marilyn Hollinquest told KPIX 5.
The Brownies earned their first badge last month when they participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade last month in Oakland, California. The badge was a fist emblazoned with the words Black Lives Matter.
In an interview with CBS co-founder Martinez says, “the girls felt really just like passionate about the topic and they loved being there.”
When asked about the big issues the Radical Brownies are tackling, Martinez said, “They are big issues, but we also feel like these are conversations that they’re not too young to be having.”
The Radical Brownies have triggered an avalanche of criticism online, with some accusing the group of brainwashing. Surprisingly enough, they are receiving support from one group, and it may come as a bit of a shock which group that is. According to the Brownies Facebook page, they were contacted by the Girls Scouts of America last week. The Girl Scouts Association congratulated them on their group, but they also respectfully let them know that the use of the word Brownie is causing confusion for some of their potential participants, as well as possible new members for the Radical Brownies. During the next few weeks they will be deciding on a new name for the group, and are looking forward to solidifying their unique identity.
The founders say that as the program expands to multiple chapters, the organization will be open to everyone, but it will always remain focused on young girls of color. Recently the Radical Brownies have been learning about how Disney princesses define girls image of beauty, and how that can have a negative effect on self-esteem. The have earned a badge called “Radical Beauty”, and another one for “LGBT ally.”
Radical Brownie co-founder Martinez tells Fusion.
“Children are more aware than we think, it’s important to not shelter children from real issues that we’re living, it’s especially important for young girls of color to feel empowered.”
As this group continues to gain attention and grow in numbers, we as a community should think about if this is something we would want our daughters to be a part of. Do we think the Radical Brownies are teaching these young girls positive messages, or are they just brainwashing them?
[Photo courtesy of Facebook]