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[Radical Monarchs]

The Radical Monarchs

Location:  CA, NY, MN, CO

Organization: The Radical Monarchs

Contact: info@radicalmonarchs.org

The Radical Monarchs, Girl Scouts-like alternative focused on the needs and experiences of girls of color, create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities. Monarchs must be girl-identified youth in 3rd – 5th grade located near one of the five nationwide troops.
“Two California mothers believe that young girls should be given an opportunity to learn about the social issues that affect their lives instead of selling cookies and learning to sew. This is why they founded Radical Monarchs, a troop where girls earn badges for completing social justice challenges.

Radical Monarchs is for girls aged 8 to 12, and aims to make them feel proud about their diverse backgrounds while teaching respect for other groups across America. Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest started the group in 2014 out of concern that their daughters were being denied access to a fuller understanding of the issues, especially those that most affect African-American and Latinx communities. No other groups for young girls discuss these issues, and Martinez and Hollinquest believe what the troops learn in Radical Monarchs will help girls better understand the world around them.”1

“The berets they wear signify their radical roots, connecting them to activist organizations like the Brown Berets that were part of the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles or the Black Panther Party, whose leader, Huey P. Newton, was famously photographed wearing a beret sitting on a rattan chair, holding a rifle and spear.

“Radical” merit badges are tied to social justice issues that disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous and communities of color, as well as women, low-income communities, immigrants and refugees.

Many young girls don’t have a social network of older women of color to guide them through conversations about race, gender and class, said [Iman] Hassan, 32, an attorney and racial justice activist based in northeast Minneapolis who will co-lead the local troop with Zapata.

Thinking about the lack of mentors, she said, “always broke me, because I did have friends that were like, ‘How did you cope with all of this?’”

Hassan is the fifth of seven siblings, including five sisters. Her older sisters were in college when she was in middle school. She credits them with helping her make sense of the world as a young Black, Muslim girl and recent refugee in a post 9/11 world.

She’s excited to be able to create the same kind of community. “Monarchs get to figure it out and become their own critical thinkers,” she said. “We’re just here to facilitate that, as adults.”2

Girl Troop Sparks Social Change,” Brielle Wagner, New York Minute Mag, March 30, 2017
2 Twin Cities girls of color need a place to thrive. Here come the Radical Monarchs,” Kathryn Styer Martinez, MPR News, May 13, 2021