OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – After the recent Black Lives Matter protests, there is a new brownie troop in Oakland. Instead of selling cookies, they are spreading a message.
On a Saturday afternoon in Oakland, a handful of 8 to 10 year old girls are gathered, in brown uniforms, giggling and eating cupcakes. They look like Girl Scouts, but it’s not just fun and games.
And it’s not just fun and games. “White policeman are killing black young folks such as women, men and children,” one of the girls said.
Another girl said, “Mike Brown. He was shot because he didn’t do nothing. Only the police officer shot him because of his skin color.”
These girls are called the “Radical Brownies.” And instead of learning sewing, they’re learning social justice.
Even their uniforms have a message.
“The beret, it’s a Black Panther/Brown Beret twist,” one of the Radical Brownies said.
“I think it’s very appropriate. A lot of the work the Black Panthers did was community oriented,” Radical Brownies co-founder Marilyn Hollinquest told KPIX 5.
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Hollinquest and her friend Anayvette Martinez co-founded the group about a month ago, after Anayvette’s daughter Coatlupe told her she wanted to join a girl’s group.
“How amazing would it be to have a girls’ troop that was really focused around social justice and where girls could even earn badges?” Martinez said.
Their first badge, a fist emblazoned with the words Black Lives Matter. They earned it for marching in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Oakland last month.
“The girls felt really just like passionate about the topic and they loved being there,” Martinez said.
When asked about the big issues they are tackling, Martinez said, “They are big issues. But we also feel like these are conversations that they’re not too young to be having.”
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The Radical Brownies have triggered an avalanche of criticism online, with some accusing the group of brainwashing.
“We did strike a nerve. We definitely did strike a nerve,” Hollinquest said.
But Hollinquest said they are not telling the girls what to think. “Kids already understand fairness and unfairness, so we take that understanding at an age-appropriate level,” she said.
The girls said they feel like they are a sisterhood.
“It’s really good for me because it brings out who I am,” one of the girls said.
Martinez said, “After this first year, we’re hoping to be able to support other chapters starting.”
In a matter of weeks, the Radical Brownies’ Facebook page received 10,000 likes. There have been requests from as far away as France and Bermuda to start chapters there.