“We live in a culture that says girls can’t be smart and beautiful. They have to choose one or the other and only as they get older do they work to claim their full sense of self. I say let’s start that process younger,” says Esther Armah, creator of Emotional Justice: Unplugged and one of the women behind this weekend’s International Fly Girls Day, a celebration of girls that kicks off with a moderated panel of teens, 1 p.m., Saturday, May 9, at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn.
Armah says the Fly Girls project was inspired, in part, by incidents like the now infamous Onion tweet about Quevanzhane Wallis. “Too often, there is a casual hurtful hateful space for girls of color. The response and reaction revolving door to these incidents can be exhausting, what I’m passionate about building is a path to power that girls create and control”.
Part of building this path requires honoring girls’ voices and experiences. Attendees at the kick-off event will receive journals and be encouraged to celebrate personal worth through writing and social media. The goal, says Armah, is to provide for girls a “sacred space to lean on that is powerful, precious and theirs.” The month of supporting activities also includes a regular blog, “Scar Stories,” by La-Vainna Seaton (*Trigger warning: rape*), who, in one post, writes frankly about wishing for boys to view her a beautiful, rather than “equal.”
Other elements of the campaign include a Sista2Sista Youth Summit on March 15 and a March 30 Twitter panel, dubbed “Own your Body; Use your Voice,” featuring Armah, political strategist L Joy Williams and activist Glynda Carr.
Armah is emphatic that Fly Girls Day is not a one-time effort, but the beginning of something bigger. “International Fly Girls Day will be an annual global event. The aim is to grow, to get more girls. This is not a moment, it’s a movement.”
To learn more about International Fly Girls Day, visit the campaign website.