• Jamilah Pitts

How are our girls?

Updated: May 18, 2020

How are our girls? Are they breathing? Writing? Have they been allowed to dance and to share what they might be thinking? In this time of great pause, of wonder, of worry, of fear and illness, have we paused to consider the wellness of our girls? 

The conversations around the COVID - 19 global pandemic today are much like the contemporary and historical conversations around crises that our world has seen. There is great coverage in the news about politics, about leadership; there is a great deal surfacing around theories, and there are countless reports around what is happening to people in major cities and countries, alike. The media offers countless stories on the number of deaths, very little stories on the recoveries, and in this nation, specifically, media outlets play a major role in promoting fear. Social media is full of stories, some of joy and many of celebration; many people are worried about income, and others are worried about how their children will learn. Many families are worried about loved ones who are at risk, and still others are waiting for their loved ones to heal. 

However, who is asking about the welfare of our girls? Young girls, middle aged girls, Black girls and Brown girls? Where and when has the conversation been centered around us? 

Our nation has a rich history of denial, forgetfulness, erasure, and of silencing - particularly when it concerns the livelihood and well - being of women and girls of color. Because their identity sits at the intersections of race, gender, age, and often class, the experiences of young girls of color are often overlooked or forgotten altogether. In many nations, including this one, the well - being of society rests on the wellness of women and girls. How, then, do we use this time to center the experiences and wellness of young girls of color, who, too, are likely afraid, worried, concerned, and wondering about their future? How do we center their joy, their voices, their creativity, their imagination, their desires, wants, their fears and their hope?

Here are some tips on how educators, parents/guardians and family members can remember our girls and center their wellness during this time:

1. Breathing: Mindfulness and meditation are important, always, and are particularly important for young girls during this time when they are likely experiencing a range of emotions. This offering can be done at home with families or parents, or educators can offer breathing and meditation practices at the beginning or end of their virtual sessions with students. This can be as simple as asking girls to find a seated position, or any position, that allows them to be comfortable and that honors their bodies. Ask girls to close their eyes, and to begin to take deep and guided breaths. It is also a wonderful practice to ask girls to write, think about or to share how they may be feeling after taking breaths. This can last anywhere between 1 to 5 minutes depending on their level of comfort. Stay tuned with the offerings of Love Your Magic, as we will offer meditation practices that you could use for your girls! 

For women of color “... poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

- Audre Lorde

2. Writing & Poetry: April is National Poetry month and a wonderful time to allow girls to express what they may be feeling! As the quote above from Audre Lorde suggests, poetry and the ability to express oneself through this particular artform is necessary. How do we honor the full, deep and rich sensations, thoughts, feelings and attitudes that our girls may be experiencing through this platform. This should be a time when we are allowing them to create freely and without rules, to breathe into their pens and pencils, to create, to honor and to give name to all that they are feeling. Allowing girls to write and journal - whether with prompts - or without (free writing) allows them to know that the nuances of what they may be feeling are okay, that it makes them human. It allows them to be able to be loud in a world, and even in a climate, that has silenced them. And, for some of our girls, this time may be incredibly hard. The idea of being home for indefinite amounts of time can be full of trauma, or fear or pain, doubt, and worry. We can use writing as a mechanism to both check in to see how girls might be feeling, as well as a tool to allow them to write out and through their emotions. This could also be a time to allow or to encourage girls to write a love letter to themselves. 

3. Arts & Crafts: Embedding the arts into our girls’ day is also another way to allow them to be well, to express and to create. This can be as simple as allowing them to color and write stories about their drawings, to paint, and when it is nice outside to use chalk to create whatever is happening inside of them. This can look like playing with stickers, using noodles or popsicle sticks to make creations of their desire. This is a time to tap back into so much of what society seeks to strip away in schools, as the arts are often the first to go. As your girls create, perhaps, you can take photos and share with us so that others are inspired! 

4. Hair: As a child I LOVED when my mother would braid my hair and put them into beads, or when she would take all of my hair and put it into one beautiful ponytail with my favorite colorful hair ties. We know that for our girls hair means so much. Hair is our crown, our pride, and our glory. Often, when we are in places of vegetation, rest, pause or vacation, we stop doing our hair! How can we use this time while our girls are at home to explore the beauty of their hair? How can we read books about hair or listen to, watch and absorb media platforms that honor the beauty of our hair during this time? Additionally, is there time to try new hairstyles, to watch hair demos? In remembering our girls and the beauty of their being, let us, too, remember their hair!  You can also encourage girls to join Love Your Magic for a virtual hairstyling session on Instagram! 

5. Reading: Reading is always a good idea. Whether we are engaging students remotely or working alongside our children as they engage in learning at home, how do we incorporate books and other reading material that speak to the experiences and beauty of our girls. Now might be the time to ensure that the reading material that girls are exposed to are culturally responsive, and responsive to who they are! Click here for a list of books that might be wonderful to read with your girls! Additionally, stay tuned to the Love Your Magic site and Instagram page for a Book Giveaway. The first 50 people to respond to the Instagram post will win a FREE copy of Vanessa Brantley - Newton’s book Just Like Me!

6. Dance, Celebration and Joy: Because this might also be a scary, worrisome, or restless time for our girls, let us also remember joy! How can we create moments of joy, gratitude, and celebration within our days at home, or within our virtual work with students? Where can we allow them to dance, to celebrate and to have these moments that are often overlooked in moments of crises? Dance parties can look like movement breaks - similar to those that exist in the classroom when teachers pause and put on music for students to be able to move their bodies. A dance party can also look like putting together a playlist of your girls’ favorite songs and allowing them to move, to feel, and to release! There is also mindful movement or yoga where girls can connect their movement with breath as a means to care for their mental, physical and spiritual selves. 

7. Films: Movies, films, and documentaries could also be used during this time, particularly films that highlight the experiences of black women and girls, that teach them about their history, or films that encourage them to be thoughtful, creative and brave! 

Love Your Magic is here and we want to help! Share your thoughts, ideas, and questions, and be sure to stay with us, as we share more resources that center the experiences, wellness, and joy of your girls during this time and always!

Jamilah Pitts is a writer, education consultant, and yoga teacher whose work centers equity, social justice, intersectionality and wellness. Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Education Week, and Teaching Tolerance.