Modern Weapons

When Do Brownies Become Brownshirts?

February 16, 2015

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When Do Brownies Become Brownshirts?

There’s a fun new group for socially aware prepubescent girls of color in Oakland called the Radical Brownies. This fledgling organization is not affiliated with the Girl Scouts of America and was formed in December by a black woman and a Hispanic woman who describe themselves as “queer women of color and avid trans allies.”

According to the group’s Mission Statement:

The Radical Brownies empower young girls of color so that they step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place.

What that means, I don’t know. What that means, I don’t want to know.

Oakland’s Radical Brownies group—which consists of about a dozen mostly Hispanic-looking girls ages 8-11 who are enabled and ideologically prodded along by the aforementioned queer women of color—describes itself as “a fierce brown and beautiful young girls [sic] empowerment troupe.” A fawning blogger describes it as “an edgier, younger version of the Girl Scouts, where girls earn badges for completing workshops on social protests, and a beauty workshop that celebrate [sic] racial diversity.” The Guardian alliteratively describes it as “a pint-sized girl group with every bit of the political passion of their predecessors.”

“Sometimes these types seem so empowered, I wonder how they avoid short-circuiting themselves.”

Being that this is the Bay Area, the group’s literature teems with references to social justice and vibrancy and sustainability and empowerment and community and workshopping and forging the bonds of sisterhood and mutual nurturing and inclusive spaces and struggle and resilience and celebration.

Again, I have no idea what any of that means. These buzzwords and catchphrases convey emotions I’ve never felt and concepts I’ve never imagined. Sometimes these types seem so empowered, I wonder how they avoid short-circuiting themselves.

The girls engage in cute activities such as building gingerbread houses and making “radical love cupcakes.” Again, being that this is the Bay Area, they are also encouraged to sip herbal tea and sample herbal lip balm and learn about herbs’ magical powers and participate in protests that involve dancing and drums.

That’s all sufficiently annoying, but it doesn’t get Orwellian until one examines the heavy invisible anvil of ideology being slammed into these impressionable embryonic minds.

The girls’ uniforms include little brown berets that the group’s founders claim are a purposeful homage to the Black Panthers and the pro-Chicano (whatever happened to that word?) Brown Berets. Their logo depicts three girls of color—one black, one brown, and one sort of blackish-brown in case anyone’s counting—raising their fists in the air communist-style.

The group’s Instagram account features a photo of cofounder Marilyn Hollinquest instructing the little brown girls using the following list of items:

1) Black lives matter
2) Ferguson
3) Mike Brown
4) Trayvon Martin/Oscar Grant
5) Police brutality

And what are these little socially aware, cupcake-nibbling radicals being taught about such topics? According to CBS in San Francisco, one of the Radical Brownies learned this:

White policemen are killing black young folks such as women, men and children.

And another one learned this:

Mike Brown. He was shot because he didn’t do nothing. Only the police officer shot him because of his skin color.

Last month the Radical Brownies boldly toted a “Black Lives Matter” banner at a local protest against police brutality, because as everyone knows, it’s not as if black Americans are around eighty times more likely to be killed by other black Americans than they are by white cops.

The girls all received their first Radical Brownies badge for participating in the “Black Lives Matter” protest—it depicts a raised fist with the slogan BLACK LIVES MATTER. Unlike the Girl Scouts and “real” Brownies, these girls do not receive badges for things such as cooking and sewing, but they can earn badges for “Radical Beauty,” “Food Justice,” and “Radical Self-Love.” Even though the Radical Brownie in question may be a mere eight years old, she can even earn an “LGBT Ally” badge


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