New Congressional Caucus On Black Women And Girls Fights The Intersectional Challenges Faced By Females Of Color

A collective of seven national female leaders – the #SheWoke Committee – inspired the formation of this new caucus.

Founders for Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls

Women of color face a particular intersectionality that enhances the likelihood of issues they face – in education, economics, health care, sexual assault, and police misconduct – falling through the cracks: being women, they fall on the lower end of the totem pole, with the higher end being reserved for men; being of color, they fall even further on this totem pole, beneath men of color. Though the Congressional Black Caucus has existed since 1971, the issues faced by black women have not received the attention they deserve.

This makes the new Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls – devoted to diminishing the disparities and barriers faced by women and girls of color – a promising political venture for a significant portion of American society. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman – who announced the formation of this new caucus on Tuesday – discussed its launch NewsOne Now, saying “Just like we are looking at our Brother’s Keeper as a focus on young Black men — young and old actually and what happens to them in our society — we have not done the same with women. No one really focuses on our (women’s) voices when they are discussing public policy.”

The fact of the matter is that the issues faced by black women don’t make front page news in the same way that the same issues faced by white women do. Further, young black girls are inundated with images and stories about white women, when what they really ought to see are women who look like them working in corporate offices, getting an education, and above all pursuing their dreams. It is because of this that Rep. Coleman emphasizes this new caucus’ role as a caucus specifically geared towards black women and black girls.

On the specific issues the caucus intends to address, Rep. Coleman said “We want to raise issues on health care disparities, on pay equity, on job opportunities. Black women are so vitally important to raising our families. We want to make sure that we discuss those things and give them the greatest opportunity based on their ability and their capability, not their gender and not their race.”

Rep. Coleman is joined in her efforts by Congresswomen Robin Kelly and Yvette D. Clarke. Rep. Clarke says on the formation of the caucus that “In many ways, 23.5 million Black women and girls are consistently left out of the national discourse on a variety of policies that will affect their lives. This caucus will be purposed to ensure that the infrastructure of inclusion fully incorporates the varied and unique needs of Black women.  Our experiences must and will inform the direction we take as a nation and we can no longer afford to be excluded from important conversations.  I am proud to stand with my colleagues at the inception of this caucus to be a vehicle for change and look forward to the great work that we will do.”

Sharon Cooper, organizer of the #SheWoke Committee had this to say about her committee: “We lift up all the Black women and girls who have lost their lives without press coverage, all the Black women and girls who are fighting for our collective liberation, and the chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, who responded in the way all elected officials should: with urgency.” The #SheWoke committee submitted a petition in January demanding that Congress address the issues faced by black women and girls. Cooper added that “#SheWoke looks forward to supporting the efforts of this Caucus, and empowering Black women and girls through policy and advocacy.”

Black Lives Matter, begun by powerful black women, includes the idea that black women and black girls matter, too. With the help of this new caucus, hopefully this country will begin recognizing the importance of equal representation and recognition of women of color.

Photo source.


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