Thursday, September 10, 2020

Mental Health Matters for BIPOC Girls: Sustaining Youth-Centered Safe Spaces

According to a recent survey conducted by Women’s Leadership Project youth leaders Kimberly Ortiz and Mariah Perkins, a majority of female-identified sexual violence survivors have not received help, assistance or intervention for their trauma. Perkins and Ortiz conducted a community-based survey with over 180 respondents across age, gender and ethnicity. The majority of their respondents (44%) were African American, with youth between the ages of 14-18 comprising over 56% of respondents. Female-identified individuals comprised 82% of respondents. As part of their outreach, Ortiz and Perkins interviewed globally renowned activist, author, and filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons about her sexual violence prevention activism. Simmons discussed the need to mobilize around sexual violence and misogynoir in African descent communities because "even if racism were eliminated today, we would still not be safe in our homes." Black, Latinx, and indigenous girls across sexuality have the highest sexual violence and harassment rates in the U.S. To address these conditions, WLP will be spearheading an October action to end rape culture and sexual violence against Black girls in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month.

In addition, WLP’s weekly youth-facilitated meetings address the harmful impact of the COVID pandemic on mental health and wellness on BIPOC girls across sexuality. How, for example, do Black girls and girls of color survive and thrive with the pressures of work, school, relationships, abuse, stereotypes, racism, sexism, homophobia and victim-shaming? WLP youth leader Ashantee Polk will facilitate the group's September 11th session.