Dear GSSC-MM Family,
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for working to make strides to ensure diverse, equitable, and inclusive Girl Scouting in your communities across our council. Our girls, ALL girls, deserve a world free of racism and injustice. This is a journey, this is our journey, and we must take it together for the sake of our girls.
Since I came back home—to Girl Scouts, where my heart is, I have been adamant that no girl should be left behind. Unfortunately, girls are being left behind. And it is often Black and Brown girls who experience the injustice and inequity in our world.
I read a story recently that evoked so many feelings. Many Black Americans are sharing personal stories that really show what they experience every, single day. One woman, wrote about her fond memories of being a Girl Scout through her entire school years. Her mostly black troop, based out of Detroit, went on camping trips, shared s’mores, packed their knapsacks, sat around campfires, and enjoyed everything that Girl Scouts cherish.
Not until the death of George Floyd did she realize the peril that her troop leaders faced to ensure the girls had those true Girl Scout experiences. This is what that, now grown, Girl Scout wrote,
“Last night I talked to my best friend, whose mom was one of our leaders and camp chaperones. We were talking about camp, and her mom mentioned staying up with two other moms all night, taking stations at each door and window of our cabin and having night watch.”
“Night watch? I asked, genuinely confused. What kind of bears did y’all think were going to open the door of our cabin and eat us? I asked, jokingly.
“She got quiet. ‘Not bears,’ she said, ‘the Klan.”
These leaders knew that the troop had to have the full Girl Scout experience and they made sure the girls were protected. Many volunteers and girls of color experience this kind of fear every single day of their lives.
Over the past 2 months Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands staff has undergone training to understand implicit bias and racism, participated in book clubs, and committed to continuous improvement mindsets to make the world a better place for all girls.
Volunteers joined us for a 3-part town hall series on diversity, equity, and inclusion. They shared their hearts and minds with impactful and meaningful dialogue around the social responsibility of leading a diverse group of girls while building courage, confidence, and character.
Our work is not even close to being complete.
Rosa Parks said, “To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”
I’ve said before that we must lead with our hearts. This rings true now, more than ever before. As leaders, we have a responsibility to reach out and work to truly understand people, and their differences; Those differences that make people uniquely who they are, uniquely beautiful. We must intentionally work to build connections with those who appear unlike ourselves.
I am passionate about this organization, about you, about our girls. I believe in girls and have no doubt they will lead us into our future with great heart and they understand that, to make the world a better place, we must work together to build anti-racist systems that prioritize equity and inclusion at all levels. Crucial to this work is advocating for those who are among the most marginalized by society, our communities of color.
When we say Black Lives Matter, Girl Scouts acknowledges the existence of racism in all of its forms and our commitment to dismantling it, including by supporting initiatives that aim to protect and empower Black communities. We understand that we need to advocate for Black lives mattering if we are to reach a point where every person is treated by society as though their life matters.
If a house is on fire in your neighborhood and everyone works to save your neighbor’s home…do you say, but what about my home? Right then, in that moment, your neighbor’s house needs the attention. At this moment in time it is a priority for us, as Girl Scouts, to ensure EVERY girl is thriving. Right now our attention needs to be on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We support the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter is not a political movement. An independent federal agency stated in an opinion in July that the Black Lives Matter Global Network did not meet any criteria for a "partisan political group," in part because the group says it will fight against officials from both parties who do not share its beliefs. Black Lives Matter is about equity, human rights, not politics.
We are committed to deep and engaged learning for the long haul, the long journey. We promise to observe, educate ourselves, and reflect on the ways racism shows up in our organization, other institutions, our culture, and ourselves.
My promise to you is that we will listen to you and each other. I promise that we will continue to engage in challenging discussions. Many conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are absolutely necessary. I promise to have a D.E.I. lens on everything we do--examining practices, decisions, and access to Girl Scouting.
That grown Girl Scout I wrote about earlier, who just recently discovered how protected she was, also voiced that even though it has been 30 years, nothing has changed. Many Black parents still have the same anxieties they did 30 years ago.
Girl Scouts must lead this movement for the future of all girls. We must commit to serving ALL girls and making the world a better place by taking action to change our world and ensure there is social justice for all.
I am always available for questions and discussions. Thank you for engaging and being a champion for change, leading this important work.
With Immense Gratitude,
We have several resources for girls and adults. Please join me by continuing to educate yourself and your girls on what we can all do to fight injustice and advocate for others.