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Joy Is Our Journey

Source: Courtesy of LaTosha Brown / LaTosha Brown

 

Black girls deserve to experience joy! In fact, joy is our birth right. That is the mantra by which Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium lives and does our work. In a country that exploits the image and value of Black girls and women, tells us we aren’t pretty enough, removes our childhood innocence by oversexualizing us, disinvests in our mental and physical health, and sets up barriers to keep us in poverty, it is a wonder that we still rise. We deserve to experience happiness and authentic joy. We deserve the right to dream–and dream big.

Unfortunately, these things I mention aren’t just rhetoric, but backed up in studies such as a Georgetown Law Study that show adults view Black girls as more adult-like and less innocent than white girls, starting as early as age five. According to Black Women’s Blueprint, 60 percent of Black girls experience sexual abuse at the hands of men. While we work to disrupt these narratives and trauma targeted at Black girls, they need and deserve the resources and support to help them navigate these experiences. There are Black women across the South who recognize this need and are doing the work daily, with minimal resources, to create a new future for Black girls and women.

Southern Black Girls was created to address this need for resources. The fact we are severely underfunded to do this work was highlighted in the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative report (SRBWI) entitled “Unequal Lives.” The report revealed less than 1 percent of the nearly $5 Billion philanthropic investment in the South goes to Black girls and women led organizations. Black girls, like Black women, shoulder many of the burdens and responsibilities in our communities, yet organizations that support them and can help them be resilient amid this trauma are not receiving the financial support. We believe we are best equipped to create solutions to our problems. This is why Southern Black Girls is committed to raising $100 million over the next ten years to support organizations that do the work to help our girls and women lead more meaningful, helpful and productive lives. Through our Black Girls Dream Fund, we have already given out nearly $3 million to support organizations and individuals to spread joy and uplift work that moves us forward.

At Southern Black Girls, we are constantly creating new ways to expand our reach and help Black girls and women spread joy. Through our inaugural Joy Is Our Journey Dream Bus Tour, we are traveling to eight cities in six states across the South, giving girls an opportunity to dream, have fun and be their authentic selves. At our Dream Villages, girls and women have the opportunity to partake in a number of activities related to arts and culture, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellness, STEM, dance and much more.

Our kickoff in Atlanta on August 20, validated how much Black girls need this space. These girls were able to express their dreams, display their creativity, discuss their challenges and be in community with each other. The Joy Is Our Journey Dream Bus Tour also creates space for the mamas and mentors who are responsible for guiding and raising our girls, so they, too, can be whole. We believe in a model of self-determination that centers girls and women.

We’re traveling to both rural and urban areas to touch the spectrum of girls in the South. Many of these communities have a long history of racial trauma and systemic poverty. Our goal is to be a hope. We are transforming places of pain and turning them into promise and possibilities.

We also encourage others to join us as we make the dreams of Black girls and women across the South a reality. Recently, the Pete and Thomas Foundation, founded by Grammy award-winning musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist Megan Thee Stallion, who I met when we were both honored as Glamour Women of the Year 2021, joined us in this important work as a community partner for the Joy is our Journey Dream Bus Tour! Through their support, our month-long caravan will continue its journey from Arkansas, through Alabama and Texas, and will culminate in Birmingham at the 2022 Black Girls Dream Conference, Friday, Sept. 16-17.

 

Saturday, 9/9 – SELMA, AL

Location: Selma High School, 2180 Broad Street, Selma AL 36701

Closed Event (not open to the public)

Time: 11:45AM – 2:45PM CDT

Register Here: https://JoySelma.eventbrite.com

 

Saturday, 9/10 – WILCOX COUNTY, AL

Location: Bessie Munden Recreational Park – 194 Bessie Munden Road, Camden, AL 36726

Time: 10am – 1pm CDT

Community Partner: Bama Kids

Register Here: https://JoyWilcox.eventbrite.com

 

Saturday, 9/10 – LIVINGSTON, AL

Location: Jaycee Park – Hopkins Street, Livingston, AL 35470

Time: 3pm – 5pm CDT

Community Partner: Black Belt Community Foundation

Register Here: https://JoyLivingston.eventbrite.com

  

Tuesday, 9/13 – HOUSTON, TX

Location: Texas Southern University

Time: 2 pm – 5 p.m.

Community Partner: The Pete and Thomas Foundation

Register Here: https://JoyHouston.eventbrite.com

 

Saturday, 9/16 – BIRMINGHAM, AL

Location: Kelly Ingram Park – 500 17th Street North, Birmingham, AL 35203

Time: 11am – 2pm CDT

Community Partner: Alabama Black Women’s Roundtable

Register Here: https://JoyBirmingham.eventbrite.com

 

Our partnership with The Pete and Thomas Foundation adds fuel to the mission of the Joy Is Our Journey Dream Bus Tour, which is to connect with Black girls and young women throughout the south and create safe spaces to celebrate unlimited, unabashed Black girl joy.

Our belief is that our work will transform the entire south by centering the needs of Black girls and women. We believe if you transform the lives of those who have been most marginalized, you can transform the entire nation. Change the life of a Back girl and you will change the world! And we can do it all with joy.

Want to support the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium? Donate by visiting our site.

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