Statement of Terry O’Neill, President of National Organization for Women on White House Report on Women and Girls of Color

11.13.2014

Washington, D.C. – The White House report “Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity,” was released today in response to the calls of the African American Policy Forum and many allied advocates, including NOW, for a realignment of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative (MBK).  Unfortunately, it misses the mark.

The report catalogues the Administration’s accomplishments for women — all women — while noting that many girls and women of color benefit from those policies.  It also invokes the concept of intersectionality, noting that “the challenges women and girls of color face … often lie at the intersection of race and gender.”

But the report’s announcement of an initiative parallel to MBK, a “Working Group on Challenges and Opportunities for Women and Girls of Color”, is the wrong response. Firstly, separate is not equal.  Besides, by design, parallel initiatives are not intersectional.

NOW continues to believe that, to be an effective initiative, MBK needs to address the entirety of the problem of racial injustice: the gender-neutral racial barriers boys and girls share in common — like inadequate schools, households with below-poverty incomes, and crumbling infrastructure — as well as gendered racial stereotypes (for example, that boys and men of color are dangerous; that girls of color are sexually promiscuous; or that single mothers of color are bad parents).

We call on the White House to realign MBK’s frame by including girls and women of color, recognizing that racism is often gendered, and that all the members of communities of color are entitled to justice, equally and together.

For women and girls of color, it’s not yet time to celebrate.

Contact

Elise Coletta , elise@now.org , (951) 547-1241
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