Kanju, an Oakland-based organization created for and by black girls, is organizing a BLACK GIRLS MARCHon SATURDAY, MARCH 30TH at 11 a.m. in Oscar Grant Plaza on 14th & Broadway “to bring awareness to the issues so many of us face and to demonstrate that we are not alone and won’t be disappeared.” Kanju is dedicated to promoting a safe space for black girls to laugh, play, congregate and bond; to relate, learn and empower one another; and to discuss, dialogue and strategize about solutions for and by black girls.
A Safe Space
Kanju was born when Luna, its founder, realized that black girls really needed a safe environment that fostered trust, friendship and deep relationships. Though she was only 10 years old, she took a look around her 5th/6th grade combination classroom at Mills College Children’s school, her community in the East Bay, and the wider world that had failed black girls for generations and realized that the best way to address the incredible challenges that black girls faced in society was to invest in the power and strength of sisterhood. Though her initial intent was to form a group of girls to counter the gossip, cliques, and alienation that had become a cycle with her classmates, Kanju has grown into so much more.
LUNA: I wanted to build a safe space where black girls could talk about their issues and create solutions.
Within the educational system, black girls are disproportionately and unfairly disciplined and yet have been traditionally left out of the “school-to-prison pipeline” analysis. Only recently have studies begun to shed light on these issues. This will surely worsen with the Trump administration’s roll back of Obama-era school discipline guidelines that were designed to reduce racial disparities in student discipline. This directly impacts black girls who are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls.
Finally, black girls are overpoliced and underprotected. A recent study shows that “black girls receive more severe sentences when they enter the juvenile justice system than do members of any other group of girls, and they are also the fastest growing population in the system.”
Kanju seeks to interrupt violent patterns.
Kanju, a fiscally sponsored program of the nonprofit Affect Real Change, Inc., offers a space for girls to come together to bond, have fun, and discuss their experiences in a safe and nurturing environment in order to find solutions by and for black girls. For Luna, it was important for her to see positive reflections of African American girls highlighted in her community to counteract all the negative messaging on television, movies, magazines, the news, and the highlight reels on social media. Listen to what brought Iyyah, Najorae and Nazia to Kanju.
IYYAH: Luna brought the attention to be about her struggles as a black girl and I related to alot of the struggles that she had with people treating us different because of our skin color and our hair…I also joined Kanju because Luna…was a really cool person and she said that alot of her friends are in Kanju and you know how the saying “your friends reflect who you are,” so I wanted to meet all of her friends; I wanted to relate to the struggle.
NAJORAE: So alot of why I joined Kanju had to do with wanting to give back to my community and finding a group of people that were like me that I could relate to in various ways and use this space as a platform to both give back and help empower others and myself.
NAZIA: When she (Luna) told me about Kanju and what it was, it really made me think about stuff like that – like controversial issues – I’ve thought about it before but I never had a chance to actually act on it – yet with Kanju I did – so I joined.
Come March With Kanju.
Kanju wants you to come out and march with them! Come out and support these young girls and help them amplify the issues facing black girls.
This event is planned BY and FOR black girls based on our experiences. We love and support each other and are coming together to celebrate all the unique characteristics that make us beautiful. If you can’t make it, make sure 5 others can. Also, please contribute to our fundraiser so we can make this a powerful Black Girl Magic event!