Its All About Empowering Young Black Females: A Complete Guide

13 mins read
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For girls of any age — but especially young girls of color — there are few things more important than a supportive environment where you can test out ideas about who you are and who you want to be. So, we’ve rounded up some excellent organizations around the country (and in some cases, the world) that encourage just that: spaces where girls of color can explore everything from writing and ballet to social justice and STEM, and experience just how magical it is to be a girl.

Teaching Young Girls How to Become Empowered Women

Kamilah Graham is the founder of Power Studios, a nonprofit in Los Angeles that empowers young girls by teaching them how to become strong, resilient women. Graham sees it as helping her young students to “be the stars of their own stories.”

On her organization’s website, she writes, “We are committed to creating opportunities for young women of color, ages 7-17 years old, to develop mental and social strength through our Proaction-Based Programming to achieve goals and create change in their lives and communities.”

Looking to Change the World, Girl By Girl

Graham started Power Studios in 2009 after being inspired by her own moving story. After being raised by parents who worked as addicts, she was separated from her biological father and her young brother, and eventually ended up in foster care.

But things changed for Graham after an inspiring teacher named Ms. Chan took her under her wing and helped her earn admission to Harvard University, where she eventually earned a degree in Public Policy. Today, Graham is a successful writer, speaker, and activist working to change people’s lives.

But her passion for her work as an educator truly began when she enrolled in a master’s program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and learned that more than half of the girls in her class were on psychiatric medication (the national average reaches 26 percent). Graham’s life changed when she met a young woman named Ms. Jackson, an older woman who ran an after-school program called Teen Voices in South Central Los Angeles.

Ms. Jackson taught Graham the concept of mental power, and how to cultivate it in young girls — and that’s exactly what Graham decided to do when she left UCLA. In an interview with The College Reporter, Graham explained what led her to create Power Studios: “I decided that was wrong. Girls needed to not be consumed in the ‘medical model’ of being treated for their illnesses. They needed to be treated with some kind of skill-building skill. If we empowered them that way, then maybe we could cut down on the amount of mental issues they’d have in a lifetime.”

Why It Looks Good on Them

Power Studios has been going strong ever since Graham founded it. The organization now serves hundreds of girls of color, who get to explore the many opportunities available to them, such as literacy, ballet, hip-hop, the visual arts, and more. The vast majority of their activities are volunteer-led, and participant costs are kept low so that students of color can afford to participate.

Power Studios has even been written up in The New York Times and featured on the Latina women’s blog Graham hopes that she can turn Power Studios into her lifelong profession, providing an incredible service for the girls of Los Angeles and beyond.

Graham will never forget the inspiration and example set by someone who was important in her education, and she directs that same inspiration and example to her students. In the words of Graham, “girls can do anything, be anything, and overcome anything.”

Well Said, Mr. Feynman


So I was reading a biography of Richard Feynman the other day, and one of the anecdotes from his childhood stuck with me.

As a kid, Feynman had a habit of asking lots and lots of questions. He was even known as “the smart kid who asked too many questions.”

And one day, his father had had enough of it.

As Feynman recounts in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, his father said to him:

“Don’t ask so many questions, Richard. Just have faith. When you get to be a big boy, if you wish to be an inventor, a scientist, an explorer or anything of that sort, you can do it. No one is stopping you. But as long as you haven’t done it, you don’t know whether you can do it. So the way to be sure that you can do it is just to try. If it doesn’t work, you can always give it up.”

That always stuck with me, and I came to appreciate it even more once I started my own journey to becoming a writer. I had always been very interested in writing ever since I was a little kid. I loved to read my parents’ books, and I would make up stories as well — stories about dogs,

Well Said, Mr. Feynman

cats, toys, and other kids from my grade. As I got older, I wrote songs, poems, and even short stories.

But I had never tried to write professionally, and the one underlying reason was that I didn’t know if I could. It seemed simple enough: Just try it and find out.

But I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

And so, I never tried. Until I read that passage from Feynman and told myself, “Hey, it’s no big deal. If you really don’t like it, you can stop anytime.” I finally bucked up and tried my hand at writing articles for a local newspaper, and I’ve been doing it ever since — and I have no regrets.

So, coming back to the point, just have the courage to try and find out. Figure out what you’re passionate about and decide the best way you know how to pursue it. The worst possible thing that could happen is that your passion doesn’t work out — but that’s okay, because you can try again. And again. And again.

No matter what, you never know until you try. So, try. Like Feynman says, it’s the only way to find out for sure.

Words from a Wise Woman

Overcoming obstacles in order to pursue your dreams is something a lot of girls deal with. But there’s no better way to get going on your crush or become a leader in your school or community than to turn to the wisdom of the women who have been there before you. Here are some of my favorite quotes that will get you thinking and inspired.

Time to Shake the World

“Dare to dream, for a dream lived out is a dream won” —Diana, Princess of Wales

Dreaming is wonderful. You can dream about anything, like becoming a small business owner, a fashion designer, or an astronaut. Dreaming was

Embrace Your Greatness by Judith Belmont

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Embrace Your Greatness offers a confidence boost for women to learn 50 practical tips to love themselves and love their lives. In Embrace Your Greatness, readers will find powerful—yet incredibly simple—practical tools grounded in mindfulness, acceptance, self-compassion, and positive psychology to help them feel empowered. They will discover ways to be more assertive, develop healthy relationships, and cultivate an unshakable sense of optimism about themselves and their lives. The book offers the keys to self-esteem and self-empowerment in small bites of wisdom, each with an actionable activity to put into practice immediately.

How To Get Over A Boy by Chidera Eggerue

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In How to Get Over a Boy, bestselling author Chidera Eggerue will show you, once and for all, how to reframe the stale goal of finding a man. She will equip you with tangible and applicable solutions for every part of your dating life, helping you recognize that men hold as much power in our romantic lives as we grant them. In the past, dating books tend to lean more into the territory of ‘how to make him find you hot!’, ‘how to make him jealous!’, ‘how to get him to propose!’. But these how-tos are placing men on a pedestal of being ‘the prize’. Men are NEVER the prize. You are. Let The Slumflower show you why.

Self Love by Adeline Bird

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I bought it a while back and it was like a deep look into myself. I have read many self improvement books and what makes this one different is the way you are able to truly know yourself better. And after knowing it makes it even easier to love yourself.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Throughout her autobiography, a document of profound insight and mesmerizing narration, Michelle Obama welcomes viewers into her life, chronicling the encounters that have influenced her — from her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive who manages the pressures of motherhood and family, to her time spent at the White House.

What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

This product was recommended by Taylor Roberts from MoversChicago

I have recommended the book What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey to other young black females for a number of years. This book encourages readers to create the life they want by constantly pursuing excellence, always practicing gratitude, and using negative experiences to grow and become stronger versions of themselves. This book is perfect for the teenager that is bored with life and needs direction in their life or the recent college graduate that is still trying to find their way.

Thriving Through The Storm by Lindsey Walker

This product was recommended by Marisa Fine from Walker + Associates Media Group

Imagine being an entrepreneur, creating your own opportunities and building the dream life that you’ve always wanted, only to be hit with a major blow: diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at the age of 27! That’s exactly what happened to Lindsey Walker, author of “Thriving Through The Storm” and a communications expert for beauty, entertainment and lifestyle brands. “I allowed my work to become bigger than my health and I found myself paying the ultimate price. After 6 months of chemotherapy, I decided to begin my own journey of healing and my new book “Thriving Through The Storm” is a result of that.” In her book, Lindsey shares the challenges of enduring six months of chemotherapy and discusses how her diagnosis changed her perspective on life, love, and entrepreneurship. She wrote the book specifically for women to find encouragement despite the dire circumstances that life can bring.

I am Enough by Grace Bayer

This product was recommended by Jeremy Ong from HUSTLR

Every young girl should have and read this one, the writing style is poetic, and easily flows to the readers’ hearts and minds, young girls in particular. I think this book is the right beginning to start talking with your girls about self-acceptance, acceptance of others, and teach them about the beauty of diversity in this world. Moreover, it helps black females to build their confidence and self-esteem, and celebrate who they are as they are! highly recommended.

Minion by L. A. Banks

This product was recommended by Arash Fayz from LA Tutors 123

Minion is the first of the Vampire Huntress Legend Series. Damali Richards is the Vampire Huntress, and she is the amazing, powerful adventure heroine that we all want to be, with all the glory and mistakes that one would expect. Minion is not for younger readers, but teens will be invigorated by Damali and her Guardian team/family.

Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers

This product was recommended by Arash Fayz from LA Tutors 123

Hot Comb is an award-winning graphic novel of Black women’s evolving relationships with their hair. Starting with a young girl’s first perm and continuing through a series of highly relatable situations, Hot Comb tells stories of commonality in experience and community.

Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison

This product was recommended by Vince Massara from Edu Test Labs

This book is a must-read one for all kids black and white. It’s kind of book that teaches children from a young age to respect all people equally no matter how different they are to us. Moreover, this book spotlights on black females’ contribution to our culture and history. It’s an amazing empowering book for young black females.

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

This product was recommended by Gerardo Juarez from Sheep Buy Inc

It’s one of the most amazing books that draws a lovable picture of relationship of black father and his daughter. Both of the story and the art are creative and has that delicate humour. I doubt that you can turn a page without smiling. I think every black father should read this book for their daughters, it’s an easy way to strengthen your relationship together and create nice memories!!

The Little Black Book of Success by Elaine Meryl Brown

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I recommend this book because it is focused on the building of self-confidence and courage that helps young black females overcome every challenge that occurs.

Be Unapologetically You by Adeline Bird

This product was recommended by Samantha Moss from Romantific

I recommend this book because you can read in this book that self-love is very important. It is not something that just happens but it’s a journey that starts with forgiveness and acceptance of what is.

The Day You Begin By Jacqueline Woodson

This product was recommended by Melanie Musson from AutoInsurance

When faced with a new situation where you feel unsure and maybe even uncomfortable, that’s the moment to seize the opportunity and grow. This book empowers the reader to step out from the shadow of uncertainty and shine in confidence because what makes a person different is what makes them special. The lyrical flow of the text is perfectly suited to the beautiful illustrations.

Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins

This product was recommended by Jennifer Willy from Etia

Drawing from fiction, poetry, music, and oral history, the result is a superbly crafted and revolutionary book that provided the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought and its canon.

Stupid Black Girl by Aisha Redux

This product was recommended by Jennifer Willy from Etia

Stupid Black Girl by Aisha Redux shares life experiences through the lens of race, culture, and spirituality. Exploring topics ranging from night terrors to schizophrenia, to gentrification, to the author’s personal September 11th story.

Wicked Flesh by Jessica Marie Johnson

This product was recommended by Jennifer Willy from Etia

Wicked Flesh by Jessica Marie Johnson argues that African women and women of African descent endowed free status with meaning through active, aggressive, and sometimes unsuccessful intimate and kinship practices.

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