Mayor Bill de Blasio - Include girls of color in the New York City's My Brother's Keeper Initiative

Dear Mayor de Blasio,

It has come to my attention that you accepted President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Community Challenge for all New Yorkers. At a time when boys and girls of color are being killed, violated, and pushed out of school, now is the time to make MBK NYC gender inclusive. Although the statements about the MBK community challenge reference "creating opportunities for all youth," it is clear through both the name of the initiative and the MBK Federal Task Force’s recommendations that the community challenge will primarily focus on young men of color. While it is important to support young men of color, it is equally important to do the same for young women of color.

In fact, on many measures, girls of color face social outcomes that are closer to their male peers than to girls of other races. For instance, among all boys, Black boys have the worst rates of suspension, incarceration, and homicide. Among all girls, Black girls have the worst rates of suspension, incarceration, and homicide. In fact, a recent study shows that although African American girls represented less than 17 percent of all female students, they comprised 31 percent of girls referred to law enforcement and approximately 43 percent of girls who had experienced a school-related arrest. These are problems that boys and girls endure together and should be confronted together.

Mayor de Blasio, you have long championed "The Dignity Act," which protects all students from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying so that all student’s meet high academic standards. Thank you for this invaluable action, which is so important to girls of color. In particular, Black girls are more likely to report having been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, forced to have sexual intercourse and involved in dating violence when compared to other girls of color, and are three times more likely than their white female counterparts to avoid school all together due to safety concerns.

New York City is often looked to as the progressive leader of our nation. Please continue our city’s legacy through including girls of color in New York City’s MBK Initiative by:

1. When convening the Local Action Summit to build an NYC MBK Community, include girls and women of color, who are invested in MBK having a gender inclusive lens, in both the planning and execution of the summit.

2. Include young women of color when performing a policy review and recommendations for future actions. This entails indexing existing local policies, programs, and practices that benefit the unique needs of young women of color.

3. Include young women of color in the plan of action and a 180-day timetable from the day the City accepts the challenge.

4. Release disaggregated data by gender, race and class of the academic outcomes, suspension and arrest rates for all 1.1 million NYCDOE students.

5. The Department of Education awarded more than $57 million in grants focused on improving school climates and keeping students safe. Assure that funds supporting NYC schools will specifically support gender inclusive programming for all students.

We cannot afford to leave our girls behind, make New York City’s MBK Initiative gender inclusive now!

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