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Watch It: The Radical Monarchs Documentary

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Via We Are The Radical Monarchs

Need something to watch this weekend? Look no further than the documentary flick We Are The Radical Monarchs, all about the activist-minded, Oakland-based troop for girls of color. Filmed from 2015 through 2018—both before and after the 2016 election—the film takes a look at the roots of The Radical Monarchs and its inspiring mission to uniquely support and center girls of color.

Founded by college friends and community organizers Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest in 2014, The Radical Monarchs takes girls through social justice-themed units around topics like Pride, mainstream media’s depiction of women, the Black Lives Matter movement (they even had their badges awarded by BLM founder Alicia Garza!), and so much more.

The must-watch film, which can be viewed via PBS’s POV through August 18th (or press play below!), takes us through the troops’ origins, inspirations, funding woes, and expansion plans, alongside touching clips of the inspiring young troop members in action—from group meetings to marching in the street to meeting with lawmakers and demanding change.

Below, you can peep the movie itself (or you can watch it here), as well as our Q&A with The Radical Monarchs co-founder Anayvette Martinez, a mother of two who was inspired to start the organization as an alternative to Girl Scouts when her own daughter was a tween.

What’s been the most satisfying part of The Radical Monarchs journey for you?
“Witnessing the Monarchs growth has—hands down—been the most satisfying part of this journey! From Monarchs who were initially incredibly shy, blooming in their power and self advocacy to Monarchs running for student body president positions at their schools, to Monarch alumni mentoring and leading the new younger Monarchs in chants at rallies.”

What’s been the most challenging aspect?
“The biggest challenge continues to be funding and meeting community demand. We get messages everyday, asking for new troops all around the country. We are a tiny team of 3, and are only in our third year of doing this work full-time. Our life-line grant ends this year and was not renewed due to COVID-19. We want to be able to launch more troops, but we need funding to sustain our work.”

How has the pandemic affected the organization?
“The first month we took a pause to allow all our new RTLAS (Radical Troop Leaders & Assistants) and families to re-ground themselves and figure out this new way of living. Then we swiftly launched a month of Radical Workshops for all our Monarchs to build connection and joy. We also created ‘Pandemic Joy Kits’ for each Monarch that had cultural fabric face masks, a rose quartz crystal (from a local, Black woman-owned crystal shop), a comic book written by Gabby Rivera about a little girl living in a post-apocalyptic universe, a coloring book with herstorical leaders, calming tea, and crayons. Lastly, we had to rework our curriculum so it could be done via Zoom and so the Monarchs could still earn badges while sheltering in place. Our RTLAS handled the shift in stride and organized social distance bike rides and badge ceremonies!”

You mentioned new chapters. Do you have any plans to branch out to locations beyond the Bay Area? 
“We most definitely have plans to branch out. Our next co-hort of Monarch Troops will be in the Los Angeles area. From there, we’d love to start a next co-hort cluster in another part of the U.S. Our dream is to have Radical Monarch troops wherever they are wanted and needed. If folks are interested, email us so we have your info stored in our database in your region. It helps if you’re a potential Monarch parent who also would want to be a Radical Troop Leader or Assistant.”

Are there any “asks” you have of folks who are inspired by the film and would like to support the Radical Monarchs?
“Yes! Please share the film with EVERYONE! Help us sustain our work by becoming a monthly donor via our website, host a virtual ‘watch party’ for the film, and invite us to do presentations or talks at your universities. Connect us with foundations that should fund our work, and signal-boost our work to your networks!”

Find out more about The Radical Monarchs on the organization’s site and Instagram feed

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