Think of the ‘Radical Monarchs’ as the Girl Scouts with a twist — the group focuses specifically on issues facing young girls of colour and are more likely be found marching alongside the anti-racism protest group, Black Lives Matters, than learning to sew or bake cookies.
A new documentary for The Guardian examines the growing girl group and shows its young members — aged between 8 and 12 and dressed in berets and uniforms — speaking up and marching for human rights issues, learning methods of self-defense and discussing concerns around disability justice, transphobia and body image. All of the activities reflect the group’s foundational commitment to social justice.
The group was founded in 2014 by two parents, Marilyn Hollinquest and Anayvette Martinez, who wanted an alternative group for their girls to join that would speak specifically and exclusively to their experiences as girls of color. No such group existed in their hometown of Oakland, California, so they took it upon themselves to establish a troop of their own, one that would reflect their shared involvement in local social justice issues and would adopt a radical, feminist approach to campaigning.
“Radical Monarchs exists because of this need for inclusion and this need for centering radical women of color’s narratives and stories,” Martinez told Buzzfeed in a recent profile. “Who do we need to bring in? Whose voice do they not hear enough of and who do they hear about all the time?”
While critics have accused the group of “brainwashing their children and unnecessarily segregating them,” Hollinquest and Anayvette say the group is not about indoctrinating the girls, but about enabling them to see things differently, to challenge the norms and assumptions established by mainstream media around issues of race, beauty and gender.
Hollinquest and Martinez hope to expand their mini group of social justice leaders and create a new troop every year.
Watch the full documentary below: