Last week we were devastated by the murder of eight members of our community, including six Asian women, who were targeted because of their race and gender. It exposed the xenophobic, hateful and dangerous stereotypes that many of the Asian members of our movement face. These murders made us more aware of the rising tide of violence perpetrated against Asian-Americans in the past year and ignited our sense as Girl Scouts of the need to take action and extend a caring hand.
This act of violence and hate comes as we mark a full year of managing through the challenges of the global COVID pandemic. The pandemic not only has caused the death of nearly 18,000 Georgians but has created financial hardship for more than one-third of our Girl Scout families. It has caused untold mental health fallout for both girls and adults in our movement dealing with the loss of loved ones, social isolation, lack of work-life balance, and financial stressors. These murders also serve as a somber reminder of the continuing pandemics of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism, ageism and ableism, and the importance of Girl Scouts’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work.
Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta engages in DEI as a core component of our programming, and it is at the heart of who we are as a movement. Girls’ voices, including our Older Girl Advisory Group, are at the center of our programming, which includes this summer’s launch of a virtual series for girls in grades 2-12 that highlights Atlanta's place in the civil rights movement and contemporary racial justice work. Gold Award Girl Scouts like Randi Parks are taking the lead on issues like voter suppression to educate their peers on real world issues that they see on the news and in their social media feeds. Our staff is working with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to increase our capacity to support volunteers in helping girls have courageous but necessary conversations around what they’ve experienced over the past year, as well as participating in community-wide efforts like United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. Together, these initiatives and others move us closer to making our Girl Scout council a better – and more equal and inclusive – place.
When we talk about our mission, we often talk about the three C’s: the courage, confidence and character that Girl Scouting builds in girls. As we continue our DEI work of becoming a more actively anti-racist organization, our work as a Girl Scout council will be organized around three E’s aligned to our Promise and Law: to educate, to empower and to empathize. I would like to share how the three E’s will guide our work in the months ahead.
Educate. Girl Scouts teaches girls to ask questions and engage in critical thinking, and girls of all races and ethnicities have told us that racial justice is important to them. Atlanta occupies a unique place as the cradle of the civil rights movement, and our goal is for Greater Atlanta to be a leader in DEI programming within the Girl Scout movement. Additional council-led programming will allow girls to explore this history and its implications on current racial justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Stop AAPI Hate and help our volunteers to learn along with girls and support them in this work. We see this work as a living example of our movement’s commitment to being honest and fair and responsible for what we say and do.
Empower. Girl Scouts teaches girls to use their voices to speak out on issues that are important to them. Over the past year, we’ve seen Girl Scouts like Himani Kalra take on issues like female gendercide and infanticide through her Gold Award project Save the Girl Child, which has educated thousands of people on this underrecognized issue in the U.S. and abroad and led to her being recognized by the Points of Light Foundation. Through our Gold, Silver and Bronze Award programs, take action projects, and programs like Miss Media that focus on public speaking, we will prepare girls to engage in their communities on racial justice and other issues that affect marginalized communities. This work is at the heart of the Girl Scout law that inspires us to respect ourselves and others and to be courageous and strong.
Empathize. The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Brionna Taylor, George Floyd and others have caused immeasurable pain, sadness, and fear in the Black community. Our Asian-American community has been similarly shattered by the massage parlor murders that hit far too close to home. At a time when we increasingly live in communities divided by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, Girl Scouts is one of the few remaining organizations that cuts across these barriers to allow girls and volunteers from all backgrounds the opportunity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see things from a different perspective. The need for support and healing for many in our movement is significant, and we have the opportunity and obligation to empathize with their pain even if it is not our own. This is what we endeavor to do when we recite the Girl Scout law to be considerate and caring.
Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta stands in solidarity with the Asian-American community, the Black community, and all marginalized members of our community. Doing so does not diminish our commitment to and support of other communities. It does not lessen the value we place on other experiences and perspectives. Rather, it recognizes that in order achieve the ambitious work of making the world a better place, there are times when some members of our community require an extra measure of our caring and support. This is one of those times. In lifting up those who need us the most, we move closer to our vision of Girl Scouts as not only a sanctuary from the hate and violence of the wider world but a place where every girl and volunteer can feel a deep sense of belonging. Thank you for the many acts of kindness that you are doing every day to help us achieve this vision.Yours in Girl Scouting,
Amy S. Dosik
CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta