Combatting Racism & Inequity: A Call to Action for Teen Girls and Their Families from Siobhan Davenport, President & CEO of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington.
You may know me as the President and CEO of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, an organization focused on the well-being, safety, equity and bright futures of our 600 mostly Black and Brown girls living in DC and Montgomery County, MD.
But I am also a Black woman and mother of a Black teenage daughter and son and the issues of racism, inequality, and police brutality against Black and Brown people that are now so publicly discussed are also deeply personal. I fear for my children’s safety as they perform mundane and daily activities – going for a run in our mixed race community, wearing a hoodie while running errands or bird watching in one of the beautiful parks – all innocent activities that, with just a phone call to the police, can become dangerous and life threatening.
And yet, even during this time of public pain and protest, I have hope.
I have hope seeing Crtittenton girls, their friends, neighbors and the world using their anger and fear to lift their voices and march in our streets to protest the the racist murder of an innocent Black man, George Floyd and the long line of Black men and women —Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown—who died at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve all Americans.
I have hope because I work with a team of dedicated professionals who create the trust and safe space for Crittenton girls to understand and empower themselves to overcome the daily inequities of racism, sexism and classism that they encounter in school, work, on public transportation and just about every other aspect of their daily lives.
I have hope in the network of support for Crittenton and the many peaceful protests calling for an end to structural racism. I know that Black and Brown people cannot change systems by ourselves and that we need the actions of White allies so that all Americans feel safe and have access to opportunity in our country.
A Call to Action
We are at an important moment in time. I am calling on the larger Crittenton community to come together in support of the voices of Black and Brown girls as we seek the systemic change essential to ensuring an equitable society. We all have a role to play and, having been asked by many in our community, have included concrete actions we can take to continue the change we all support.
Hear from Teen Girls
We invite you to join our virtual High Tea: Talk With A Teen Girl on Thursday, June 25th to have a much-needed open conversation with our teen girls. It is an opportunity to hear directly from and partner with our Black and Brown teen girls to move forward on advocating for equity, including very timely issues related to education, equity and mental health.
Get the Facts
In 2019, we released a report, Declare Equity for Girls: It’s Time!, that is a call to action for our District of Columbia teen girls and the adults that care about them and their future. The report illustrates with hard, verifiable data, the harsh inequitable realities that our teen girls face. Read and share this report with your network so you have a shared understanding of why the systems need to change.
Change happens when we take action and helping to educate and encourage our youth to identify a cause they feel passionate about and then translate that passion into votes for elected officials that support policies to address racism, sexism and classism.
When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. There are opportunities for adults and families to be Voting Squad Captains and separately, for high school teens to engage (and even hired) in their National Student Ambassador Program.
Staying Connected: Creating Change
The Crittenton community knows that the not-so-secret sauce to our success is that every team member cares about every teen girl we serve. Being a caring adult — centering and supporting others — is what we are each called to be not only for Crittenton girls, for the next generation and for the Black and Brown communities facing systemic racism, sexism and classism.
Grateful for your support and friendship as we commit and recommit to the change we collectively seek.