#Standing4BlackGirls Task Force: Disrupting the Blaming and Shaming

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Black LGBTQI+ and Black female identified youth have some of the highest rates of sexual violence abuse in the nation, yet seldom receive culturally responsive mental health intervention, and are routinely victim-blamed/shamed and policed by law enforcement, Black churches, families, and schools. Although psychotherapy has gained more mainstream acceptance in communities of color due to the pandemic, Black women and girls who seek out therapy are still burdened with the stigmatizing cultural stereotype that they should be “strong”, self-sufficient, and supportive of others before they take care of themselves.

This summer, Women’s Leadership Project youth from King-Drew Magnet conducted a wellness survey with over 150 South L.A. youth and adults, focusing on their experiences with sexual violence and harassment. Nearly 70% of Black female sexual violence survivors reported that they had not received mental health intervention (i.e., counseling or therapy) after their experiences. In anecdotal responses provided to WLP youth, African American girls who sought out therapists also reported that they had difficulty finding or being placed with culturally competent Black women practitioners. When they were able to find these practitioners some could not afford their rates.

As a result, the WLP created the #Standing4BlackGirls Wellness Initiative fund. The fund provides free, culturally responsive, humanist and secular individual/group therapy for LGBTQI+ straight/cis&femme Black girls in L.A. County from 16–24 years old. The initiative will begin this month, in partnership with Black women and BIPOC mental health practitioners from Open Paths and My Choice, My Power Counseling. Application info is available here https://bit.ly/3hwrwTi

In addition to this initiative, WLP youth are spearheading a regional Black Girls’ task force to address the need for more mental health, social, economic, and educational support resources that are specifically designated for Black girls. As part of this effort, WLP youth launched a survey to collect data and information for the launch of the task force in mid-February (the first meeting will be facilitated in partnership with Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager’s office). The survey is for Black and African descent girls between the ages of 12–24. Preliminary results indicate that Black girls are experiencing high rates of trauma, anxiety, and stress related to the pandemic, unemployment, domestic violence, lack of child care and health care, educational disruption, and having to work part-time or full-time to support their families.

To participate in the survey and find out more about the task force, please see this link https://bit.ly/38U4RNY

Writer and educator, Founder of WLP, Author of Humanists in the Hood, the novel White Nights, Black Paradise and the speculative fiction podcast Sleep Dystopias