The Grio op-ed: Innovation by Black girls and women in the arts creates possibilities for us all

Screen cap of the Grio op-ed

Black Girl Freedom Fund Manager Cidra Sebastien wrote an op-ed for the Grio! We love reading our story through Cidra’s unique and special perspective. Here’s the article

I still remember the day I met Tina Turner at Tower Records as a 5-year-old Black girl. She filled the room with her lovely laugh, big smile and even bigger energy. It was exhilarating to see her, a Black woman artist owning the entire store. I was in awe of the presence of this powerful example of a Black woman artist.

These luminaries not only light the way for the next generation of Black artists and innovators, but they are the cultural influencers who help us see the full embodiment of Black girls’ and Black people’s lives, beyond tropes of tragedy and sadness, to include the infinite possibilities that await them and the liberated futures they are creating. They help shift the narrative and change hearts and minds about Black girls, femmes and gender-expansive youth, who are essential to achieving a more just world. Yet, we know that Black girls, femmes and gender-expansive youth are the least seen, recognized or invested in. Research shows that less than $15 million, about 4.2%, of philanthropic giving was specified for Black women and girls in 2017, the most recent figures available. Black women and girls received $17,000 less in grant support compared to a median of $35,000 for all foundation grants.

The Black Girl Freedom Fund and the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign aim to change that. Since 2021, the Black Girl Freedom Fund has invested more than $7 million into over 80 organizations across the United States. From cultivating educational opportunities in STEM to deep healing, leadership development and beyond, the work our grantee partners are doing is not just changing the lives of Black girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth — they are fundamentally changing how others understand the role of Black girls in our communities and the world.

The #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign is the first-of-its-kind movement to mobilize a $1 billion investment in Black girls, femmes and gender-expansive youth. The eight co-founders of the #1Billion4BlackGirls campaign drive the strategic direction and priorities of the campaign, and they continue to advocate for investment in Black girls and gender-expansive youth through each of their respective organizations and personal advocacy work.

“The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible,” goes the saying from legendary cultural and community worker Toni Cade Bambara. We know that art, culture, innovation and ingenuity are integral parts of a continuum of social justice, advocacy, and healing. We get to invest in our Black girl, femme and gender-expansive creators because they deserve it. They are the light of possibility that is so necessary in these turbulent times.

Read the op-ed on Grio.