Racism is a national disaster in this country. It robs us of brilliance, ingenuity, and progress. And in a country where policymakers at the highest levels neglect Black girls in favor of offering support to their male peers, we continue to undermine the progress of the entire community.

Mentoring Black boys doesn’t help Black girls raise children alone or trying to attend school while pregnant. Focusing only on Black boys doesn’t keep Black women from being the group with the fastest growing rates of imprisonment or highest HIV infections. It doesn’t stop the gender bias that disproportionately burdens girls with family and childcare responsibilities at home. “Trickle-down” community building that delivers support to only men and boys doesn’t help Black women and girls any better than trickle-down economics helps the poor. And prioritizing Black men and boys over black women and girls is simply about putting men first and women last.

As always.

As schools continue to deteriorate, at increasingly rapid rates in the cities in which brown and Black children disproportionately reside, I am concerned about the fate of Black and brown girls. Our stories are rarely told and so people have learned to think they’re insignificant. Our experiences are minimized and so, too, are our contributions.