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More than a statement. A change.

More than a statement. A change.


2020-more-than-statement-change-web

Dear Girl Scout friends and family,

It has been a painful and tumultuous few days and weeks in our city and our country. Following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others not-to-be-forgotten – many institutions are searching for the right response, Girl Scouts of Greater New York included.

As we mourn and process, I want you to know that here at Girl Scouts of Greater New York, black lives matter.

There are thousands of black Girl Scouts in New York City and their lives matter. To them and all black girls we say, we see you, we love you, we are here for you. We stand with you.

In this moment, the vision we’re all working toward together feels particularly grounding: a New York City in which every girl feels empowered to lead in her community, the workplace, and the world.

Last week, GSGNY posted on social media in solidarity with black girls and their families, our volunteers, and our staff members.

We want to make more than a statement though. With full acknowledgment that our organization is coming to the work of explicitly supporting black girls and families far too late, we want to make a change.

We're responding to recent events with action. This is not an exhaustive list of next steps, but here’s where we’re starting:

  • Mandatory training for staff and volunteers
    • Starting in the Fall of 2020, anti-bias and anti-racism training will be mandatory for Girl Scouts of Greater New York troop leaders and staff members.

      For many black girls, LGBTQIA+ girls, and girls from other marginalized groups, Girl Scouts has been a safe haven and a welcoming community. But we cannot pretend that experience is universal. Internalized anti-blackness can be found in even the most well-meaning people and friendly environments. According to author Ijeoma Oluo, “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself.”

      With this training, which will be led by experts outside of our organization, we hope to ensure that all Girl Scout volunteers and staff members take time to examine their own biases of all kinds, and approach the community-building work of Girl Scouts with knowledge and intention.

    • In the short term, we will be expanding the scope of our Growing Together Through COVID-19 webinar series to include topics such as anti-racism in practice, unpacking unconscious bias, and leading girls in conversations about race.

  • Support for girls
    • First, we know girls need a safe space to process and discuss all that they’re feeling, seeing, and experiencing. We want to make sure troop leaders feel like they have the tools to facilitate those conversations and we will be providing training to support them in those efforts.

    • Take-Action projects are a cornerstone of Girl Scouting, exemplified by the Girl Scout Gold Award. For years and years, girls have chosen to focus on discrimination and institutional racism as subjects of their take-action projects and we want to do more to support them. In the coming weeks we will formalize partnerships with NYC organizations that specialize in anti-racism education, training, organizing, and advocacy to ensure that Girl Scouts choosing to focus on these issues connect with the expertise and guidance they need to make change in their communities.

  • Within our organization
    • The reality is most of the senior leaders at Girl Scouts of Greater New York are white. That needs to change.

      In the short term, we want to make sure the voices of our black staff members, volunteers, parents and caregivers, alumnae, and Girl Scouts are at the center of what we do next. Therefore, we have formed an employee working group focused on making our organization more intentionally anti-racist.

That is where we’re starting. We welcome and look forward to your feedback and ideas as we shape this work. Please feel free to reach out to me personally at ceo@girlscoutsnyc.org.

On a more personal note, this is an incredibly traumatic and stressful time for everyone but of course, especially for the black families in our community. I hope you are finding ways to take care of yourselves – we cannot be here for the young people in our lives if we ourselves are running on empty.

Thank you for being a treasured part of the Girl Scout community in New York City. As we embark on this journey of action and for many of us, unlearning, there is no group of people I would rather march with.

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Meridith Maskara
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Greater New York