Two California mothers believe that young girls should be given an opportunity to learn about the social issues that affect their lives instead of selling cookies and learning to sew. This is why they founded Radical Monarchs, a troop where girls earn badges for completing social justice challenges.
Radical Monarchs is for girls aged 8 to 12, and aims to make them feel proud about their diverse backgrounds while teaching respect for other groups across America. Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest started the group in 2014 out of concern that their daughters were being denied access to a fuller understanding of the issues, especially those that most affect African-American and Latinx communities. No other groups for young girls discuss these issues, and Martinez and Hollinquest believe what the troops learn in Radical Monarchs will help girls better understand the world around them.
These girls have confronted big topics, including beauty standards, environmental awareness, and justice for the black, LGBTQ, and disabled communities, but the topics of discussion are endless. They also learn self-defense, complete journals on each issue they learn about, and attend marches and protests in their community.
Some people across the country have not been supportive of the group because they feel the topics the girls learn about are not age-appropriate, or that the girls are being misguided into becoming racists. The founders strongly disagree with these claims.
In today’s world, we are constantly surrounded by messages, whether on TV, in online articles, or spread across our social media, and these messages can easily influence children. Radical Monarchs educates girls about issues they may not confront in normal life, but still affect them every day. The founders especially want the girls to feel like they have a voice. They believe it is important for the girls to know that there are others in the world who look like them and have the same experiences as them; they are not alone.
The badges that these young girls receive are quite inspiring. The ‘Radical Beauty’ badge has taught the girls to love who they are and to not care about what other people think of them. The ‘Radical Pride’ badge was given to those who participated in a transgender march in San Francisco. Other badges include the ‘Radical Roots’ badge, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ badge, and the ‘Radical Bodies’ badge. Martinez says that there are so many things that the girls want to do together, so the only thing she is worried about is how to fit everything into their schedule.
The girls still have the same fun as other groups, and the founders put together badge ceremonies and self-love parties to make the experience even more special. The girls involved are really excited about the opportunities they get to experience – and do not miss selling cookies at all.
Since receiving coverage on The Guardian, The Real, and other news sites, Radical Monarchs is proving that there is a demand for other groups like this in the country. These girls may be young, but they are showing the world that it is never too early to start making connections with other people and changing the world.
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