Over a year ago, I was invited to join a New York City-based initiative to provide recommendations on improving the health and lived experiences of New York City young women of color. In one of our first meetings, we were asked to identify the struggles that young women of color face in the city. With flip chart papers labeled as “reproductive health”, “education”, “access to physical exercise”, and others, we divided into groups and developed lists of things we felt were impacting young women of color negatively.
When we were done, each flip chart was filled to capacity. It seemed good because we were able to identify so much that we can pull from related to providing recommendations to the city. But as I looked around the room at the other flip charts, I felt incredibly drained. “What are the solutions to all of this?” I asked myself.
I’m glad I wasn’t alone in my concerns, because another person in the room made a crucial observation: First, we were a room full of adults, and while we may work with (or do research on) young women of color and have a pulse on what the issues may be, we’re nowhere near being youth. Second:
There's danger in focusing solely on what's wrong with young women of color. This leads to fear-based solutions. Click To Tweet
It’s draining to focus on what’s wrong, especially when those problems are highlighted within your communities or within the communities you serve or ally with.
This isn’t to say that we should turn a blind eye to the challenges facing our communities. But what if there’s a better way?
What if we identified not only the problems, but the ways in which young women of color show resiliency? What if we asked young women of color to show us what the solutions are?