In January 2016, seven women of #SheWokeCommittee, advocates of black women’s rights (which includes Nakisha M. Lewis, Ifeoma Ike, and Sharon Cooper, sister of Sandra Bland #SayHerName), decided to put a plan into action. They released a formal call for support by creating a petition on MoveOn.org for congress to establish and “create a space that puts black women’s issues at the forefront.”
The formal petition gained interest from U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) to lead the formation of the first Caucus for Black Women and Girls.
The Caucus for Black Women and Girls will model the initiative of Obama’s I Am “My Brother’s Keeper”. The caucus establishes and represents a voice for black women and girls and will work to establish a legislative support system set to improve the quality of lives for black women and girls, a demographic that has been alienated and under-represented for far too long. The advocacy from the legislature will help support gender – race-based inequities black women and girls confront in education, healthcare, and wages. The spectrum of the platform is social, economic, and political.
Recent studies have highlighted the disparity of black women and girls especially the criminalization of black girls and the school to prison pipeline. The African-American Policy Forum study discovered black girls were six times more likely to be suspended than white girls. Unfortunately, many schools have indoctrinated and exacerbated the “zero tolerance” policy that leads to arrests and expulsion from school.
Black women’s voices are rarely heard and acknowledged within the political framework unless it is an election. Women of color specifically “black women are starting businesses at a rate of 1.5 times the national average. Women owned businesses account for 30% of all businesses in the US. African American/Black women own 14% of women owned businesses. “ Unfortunately, when we look at representation for black women via the political landscape, we are underrepresented as well. We have NO black female representatives in the Senate in the 114th Congress. Thirty-three of the women serving in House of Representatives are women of color: 18 are African-American, nine Latin, and six Asian American/Pacific Islanders.
We would like to thank these women by acknowledging their support and advocacy in supporting our communities by ensuring our voice is heard and changing the narrative on black women and girls.