Remembering my eight years as a scout, I don’t recall doing much. Besides selling cookies and going to theme parks, our troop did little besides meet and make crafts. Though scouting organizations often claim they impart life-changing experiences and lessons, they tend not to carry much weight. However, in Oakland, CA, a new scout troop is making waves. 

Chrysalis of the monarchs

The Radical Monarchs came into being in December of 2014. Created by friends and mothers Marilyn Hollinquest and Anayvette Martinez, the pair launched the group as an inclusive alternative to Girl Scouts. 

Martinez was inspired by her young daughter and soon envisioned a new scouting experience. In the Radical Monarchs website, Martinez states, “I began to imagine what a radical young girl’s social justice troop looked like; a group that centered and affirmed her experiences as a beautiful and brilliant brown girl against so many societal pressures to conform to mainstream ideals of girlhood.”

Badges for a better world

Like traditional scouting, Monarchs earn badges. However, the badges earned in this organization differ from usual topics like weaving and archery. For each badge, the monarchs engage in a Radical Badge Unit. These educational units focus on social justice and self-empowerment and are completed with workshops and field trips. Badges listed on their website include “Black Lives Matter,” “Radical Pride,” “Pachamama Justice,” and “Racial Coding.” 

The group is dedicated to creating “opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities, and contribute radically to their communities.”

The group, while about education, is also about action. Radical Monarchs prioritize community action and are regular attendees to protests. Their approach is intersectional; they advocate for many groups and work diligently to fight social injustice. In November 2016, the Monarchs took to Oakland city hall, demanding accountability from their mayor. They also participate in community cleanups and speak with legislators at California’s State Capitol.

Little but fierce

Despite being a children’s organization, the Radical Monarchs have not avoided backlash. The 2020 documentary on the group, We Are The Radical Monarchs, showcases many of the baseless attacks put forth against the Monarchs by conservative television presenters. Despite outraging Sean Hannity, the group thrives. 

Though they have faced funding issues, the group has prospered since the release of We Are The Radical Monarchs. Along with founders Martinez and Hollinquest, a third staff member has been added. A second troop has been established in Oakland, and there are plans for a third in Los Angeles. 

The Radical Monarchs are not a conventional organization. This is for the better. Though they are young, the Monarchs are gaining skills to truly make a difference in their communities, and soon, the world. They may be little, but they are fierce. 

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