6th Chicago Day of the Girl: Global Sisterhood a Success

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Ayodele Drum and Dance Sesa Wo Suban performance

On Wednesday, October 11, the Girls Like Me Project hosted its 6th annual Chicago Day of the Girl: Global Sisterhood in observance of the UN  International Day of the Girl.

The event was held at the Studio Movie Grill in Chatham on the South Side of Chicago. More than 125 women and girls attended the event. Special guests included VuyiswaTulelo, Consul General- South Africa; Peggy Parfenoff, President- World Chicago,  Appreccia Faulkner, CEO- Global Strategists Association; and Perri Small, host WVON Radio.

“Our mission emphasizes global sisterhood,” shared La’Keisha Gary-Sewell, CEO of Girls Like Me Project. “Which is why we continue to be humbled by the opportunity to create a space that includes the experience and voices of Chicago girls in the global conversations on girls empowerment. It is critical that they know they matter in a global context.”

Highlights of the evening were performances  by Ayodele Drum and Dance, and teen dancer Maya Unique, music artist JazStar, and a mini fashion show which featured hand-crafted  jewelry piece made in Mali.

Felicia Apprey-Agyare of The African L.I.F.E assembled a collective of diasporic women who represented  seven countries. The women shared their global perspective and taught girls how to say “sister” in their native languages.  The seven countries were South Africa, Liberia, Ghana, Ethiopia. Kenya, Nigeria, and Mexico.

GLMPI took the opportunity to announce its new initiative and partnerships that provide life-changing international experiences for the girls we serve. Through a partnership with Global Strategists Association and Global Glimpse, GLMPI will sponsor travel to Latin America in Summer 2018 for  two high school students from low economic backgrounds.

“We want to bring diverse groups of students together to see the world,’ contends Jamelyn Lederhouse, Chicago Regional Manager of Global Glimpse. “This whole experience is to help you develop as a  leader, and also to  help you develop community. We work at Global Glimpse to help America’s next generation to become responsible global citizens  You cannot do that staying right here. You have to get out of our comfort zone physically,  mentally, emotionally, spiritually. When you come back you are stronger  you have a global understanding that goes beyond your peers’ perspective and that you will make a greater impact in your community and abroad.”

Consul General Tulelo of South Africa offered a sense of humor, wisdom and guidance to the girls, with an emphasis on self love.

“There are 52 countries on the continent of Africa and depending on which part of the country you come from, cultures are extremely different and are not the same,” explained Consul General Tulelo. “ It’s wonderful to celebrate this day as declared by the United Nations,  but there’s an even bigger responsibility as young women ourselves. There is a bigger responsibility in how we project ourselves to the world. What is it that defines you? As a people we are being misrepresented. So what do we want to say about ourselves? We are young women of courage, we are young women of integrity, of high levels of  intellect and we will not be shaken. We are young women who know where we come from and know where we are going to and nobody is going to deter us from that. But most importantly we know that we are people for the fight for justice, equality and nondiscrimination. It is important to never ever be ashamed of who we are. We should celebrate who we are. We should celebrate our heritage.” Watch video of Consul General Tulelo’s full remarks.

The Consul General’s commentary were the prelude to the culminating screening of the My Black is Beautiful film, Imagine a Future, which critically examined self esteem and the impact of beauty standards on Black girls. The film reinforced the Global Sisterhood theme of the event as it chronicled the personal journey of Janet, a teen from Delaware, who traveled to South Africa to learn more about herself and depictions of beauty.

The organization also honored three local women who exemplify the GLMPI mission. Honorees included:

Apprecia Faulkner (Global Connections Award)

Lesley Martinez Etherly (Mission Accomplished Award)

Perri Small (Lifetime Achievement Award)

While receiving her award, Perri Small demonstrated solidarity in the fight for social justice by taking a knee.

Watch video of event highlights.

View photos from event below. All photo credit: Kymon Kyndred

 

 

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What girls do you see?

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As International Day of the Girl fast approaches, the focus on girls’ issues is being held up for examination. And rightly so. Girls all over the world face injustices directly related to their gender. Those injustices become much more perilous and detrimental to their development if they are poor and/or girls of color. The issues run the gamut from poverty, structural violence, sexual exploitation, stereotypes and misrepresentation in media, criminalization, limited access, health inequity, sub par to complete lack of education, obesity, and the list can go on and on.

All around the globe there is a movement to empower girls, and galvanize advocates on their behalf. Various institutional organizations have been able to attract heavy hitting allies and funding for their efforts. That support has also raised the profile of the girls they serve.

Still, there remains so many whose marginalized experience has now been marginalized from the global girls movement. The funding appears political, and the conversation seems to exclude grassroots voices. it is time for this to change. I’m hoping to influence this change my connecting the voices/narrative of urban American girls who face identical hardship, parallel to their counterparts on the other side of the world.

When United Nation’s resolution 66/170 declared October 11 as International Day of the Girl, it provided the perfect opportunity to work towards our organization’s mission, which is to partner with organizations and institutions to better navigate the negative stigmas and media messages that influence African-American girls.  Our power is in providing girls the tools that transform communities and foster global sisterhood.  

I am proud that we’ve been able to host Chicago Day of the Girl event since 2012 where we’ve connected more than 300 girls to the monumental purpose of International Day of the Girl. We get connect them to a global community that s otherwise distant and out of reach; celebrate and advocate for their success beyond the myriad of circumstances that stifle their potential.

In Chicago, our Day of the Girl is filled with fun! From cultural performances to spoken word and giveaways we make it exciting. Yet there’s the serious business of panel discussions and resource sharing.  Ayodele Drum and Dance will set the tone for us. She’s All That teen models will showcase women/girl designers. and so much more.

Here’s some video of previous years. And our FB page has photo highlights.

How are you celebrating International Day of the Girl where you are?

Shutting Down Rape Culture and Chief Keef at CPS Proms

Delivering 522 signatures  to CPS to ban rape culture from proms and school functions

Delivering 522 signatures to CPS to ban rape culture from proms and school functions

Girls deserve to BE and FEEL safe. That’s it. That’s all. Especially in spaces that are sanctioned by adults. Especially in institutions whose primary purpose is to advance their development and well being.

So moving the needle forward, my initial utter disgust and shock at the heinous lyrics of yet another Chief Keef song prompted a petition to ban his music from Chicago Public School proms and other school events. We were very successful in exceeding our target of 500 signatures. Not only did we get those signatures, but local and national media helped facilitate the discussion. The petition had amazing support from Moms Rising, a vanguard in issues that pertain to mother’s rights and issues as well as policy.

In the midst of the momentum of growing support for this particular petition, CPS made an unprecedented move  to become the first district in the nation to mass-close 50 schools, a move that will surely affect safety, academic pursuit, and socialization of Black and Brown students. This politically charged turmoil almost daunted our focus. But with wisdom and encouragement from Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka (a Mom’s Rising Fellow) we pressed forward and delivered the signatures; trusting that for this cause, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett along with other CPS officials will take heed to public opinion and yield to moral obligation to ensure girls are safe; safe from verbal assault, safe fro the threat of rape and sexual violence, safe among male students.

Our timing could not be better, because it appears Chief Keef is hell bent on publicly threatening any woman/girl he comes in contact with sexual violence and battery…His latest was a violent rant against pop celebrity, Katy Perry. Clearly he is a socio-path. Yet while it may be a slow battle to get his songs removed from radio airwaves, we are taking the small steps to disempower he bravado, and mic check his dangerous platform. Not only are we demanding all of our children not be exposed to music that promotes rape culture, we are also emphasizing the need to implement cultural programming in schools that allow students to become media literate…to provide a critical lens by which our young people perceive media messages.

While our students have to navigate treacherous streets on their way to school, we affirm it only right they be kept safe inside the building and spaces occupied for CPS functions.

  1. We want media literacy programs in schools such as programs facilitated by Girls Like Me Project, Inc.
  2. DJ/Audio entertainers hired by school administrators must adhere to policy developed for & in collaboration with students which outlines SPECIFICALLY what rape culture encompasses
  3. CPS must adequately support music/arts programs which foster positive outlet of creativity for its students
  4. Parents and adults must take an active role in understanding how to manage their child’s media intake
  5. Schools should host forums to discuss social implications behind music that promotes rape culture
  6. Join national campaigns against rape culture in media, like Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now Mail (FAAN Mail) Talk Back movement 

We know CPS can shut down anything it puts its mind to…it is time they shut down Chief Keef and all music that promotes sexual violence against our girls… for all of our babies.

It takes an Extraordinary Father to raise up an Extraordinary Mother

There have been many a song written about our mother’s. Our sweet mothers. Called by many names; Mommy, Mama, Ma, Sweet Sadie, the terms of endearment are e dless. Our love for our mothers is so deep; so intrinsic to our very being that this world feels wrong side out when we lose our mothers, after all Mama is the queen of our heart, her love feels like tears from the stars. Mama’s love is food to our soul. We honor them with our words and deeds, especially giving them the first credit for our success and accomplishments.
Every published author has dedicated a book to her. Watch any awards show and you could make a 50 minute mashable of all the mother shout outs.
Mothers are placed on pedestals, sprinkled with love and covered with loyalty. The caring and nurturing spirit feeds us. We seek her sage advice, always looking up for her approval, striving to make her proud. And so on Mother’s Day, as we do on her birthday and just about any day and find ourselves feeling carefree with some extra pennies in our wallet, we aim to please with tokens of our love. That’s our mama’s. And we’d do anything for her.But what about other people’s Mama…like your daughters’? Are you honoring her? It amazes me how many men turn over the earth for their own mothers, but on Mother’s Day begrudge the other mothers in their lives. They love, honor and respect their own, but then give the critical, judgmental side eye to the mother of their children.

Little girls today grow up to be the mothers of tomorrow. The kind of mother they will be highly depends on their fathers today. Having a strong father is a guiding force in supporting our girls natural maternal instincts. And when I say strong fathers, I don’t mean the man who just happens to live in her home. It takes much more.

A strong father brings his A-game to the fatherhood court. He is a team player and practices fundamentals so he can get better. He honors the game and demonstrates good sportsmanship. He recognizes that by giving it his all, he will become MVP in his daughter’s life. And he’ll know he has the championship ring when his game provides his Babygirl with:

  • Confidence to show up and reach for dreams
  • Discernment to recognize good men and make affirming choices
  • Healthy self esteem to be okay with herself
  • Respect for herself and others
  • Love to recognize and honor its power


Did you know that teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, domestic violence are just a few of the areas fathers can guide their daughters away from? Check out more stats and ways you can influence positive outcomes for our mothers of tomorrow.

You are not winning if you see yourself in any of the following scenarios:

M.I.A Daddy
Some of the young ladies I work with express such yearning for their fathers. A few see their fathers sporadically throughout their lives, many others can’t remember the last time they have seen or spoken to the man who contributed to their existence. It is heartbreaking to witness, crushing to live it. It is crazy how this manifests itself in motherhood. That mother who over compensates for her children’s missing dad, she probably had an M.I.A daddy. The mother who makes excuses and believes any daddy is better than no daddy for her children… Yep, she was most likely the daughter of an MI.I.A daddy.

Present Dad
On the flip side of the M.I.A daddy, we all are familiar with the daddy who pays all the bills but spends little time. He’s the dad that spends more time at work than in his home. Our daughters need fathers who are present and intentionally engaged. Otherwise she grows up to be the mama who expects nothing from a man (the father of her children) but a check. She won’t expect, nor welcome, input on how she raises her children, not even from their father.

Daddy’s Little Girl
There is nothing in the world a Daddy’s girl fears that she does not believe her father cannot fix, no dragon (bullies/abusive boyfriend/mean boss/slum landlord) he will not slay to protect her. When little girls grow up knowing they are loved and protected, it gives them permission to go out into the world standing tall with confidence and security.

Spoiled Rotten
Daddy’s little girls take special pride in how much their fathers love them. They get giddy knowing with the right pout of the mouth and tug of the arm will make her daddy do anything to please her. His love and affection for his princess is expressed with material gifts. A strong father recognizes balance is a must or else he is raising the girl who he calls a “gold digger” who also learns to use motherhood as a ploy to get more tokens of affection. She’s the mother many are today begrudging Mother’s Day, that selfish mother who takes child support and purchases designer bags.

Spare the Rod
In our society, fathers have gotten the reputation as disciplinarians. Justified or not, strong fathered understand the difference between discipline and abuse. Strong fathers know often times, the best discipline comes from example and a good conversation. Still if you are the dad who takes the belt off his pants, the situation had better be assessed and resolved with love leading. Your daughters future could hold an abusive man whom she allows to harm her and her children.

Do Right Man
There are little girls who stay on the lookout for their Daddy. But Daddy is slow to show up. When he come around he’s got the I can’t get you those new shoes/glasses blues and a package full f excuses. Seems like he disappears into the room with mama and spends 15 minutes being daddy. This little girl will more than likely grow up to be that bag lady type of mama, bitter and distrustful. She will tell her children not to depend nor trust any man…you know what I’m talking about. Do right by being a dependable and respectable father who gives his best self to his daughter.

Rolling Stone
This one needs no explaining, after all The Temptations made it plain. We all know that father that has children in everywhere part of the city or spread all over our country town. I swear I have heard from young girls who say they met a new friend at camp on in their new school who turned out to be there sibling. For real. There’s a lot to say about this, but that’s another post for another day. Today just know this type of father maps the path for his daughter to be a “Baby Mama.”

Honor thy mother(s)
This is last but belongs at the top. Of course little girls want to see their Nana’s and Grannies honored and respected, but they too are watching how their fathers treat their mothers. This dynamic informs them how they should expect the father of their children to treat and interact with them. If nothing else is key, it is in the example. No child wants to hear you berate her mother, your little girl does not deserve to be a pawn in grown folks’ business. This is a team sport and you and her mother are the franchise owners, coach and teammates. Sometimes you will also need to be the bigger person and referee, yet with love.

How are you  loving your daughter right today so you can honor her on Mother’s Day in the future?

Ladies, how do you think your father shaped your motherhood?