What does nurturing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging mean? To me it means acknowledging our history, learning from our past, and implementing actions towards unity. Being that DEIB is embedded in me, I created an event in collaboration with Antioch’s Troop 35001 around celebrating these morals.
The event was in honor of the African Diaspora, an atrocious time for West African people as they were stolen from their country and enslaved; they also were traded around the world like livestock and instantaneously deprived of their history and cultural connections. The Girl Scouts event viewed the impact of these West African people and their decedents on every place they touched. As they are evidently influential in the music, cuisine, dance, fashion, games, mental health, and beauty techniques and their influence can be seen in practices adopted by other cultures around the world, even today.
What is the African Diaspora?
The African Diaspora is the term commonly used to describe the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, from the 1500s to the 1800s. This Diaspora took millions of people from Western and Central Africa to diﬀerent regions throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. Many slaves experienced unimaginable maltreatment and even genocide, as this was a time where black people were not seen and considered human.
How was the Girl Scouts event conducted?
The girls in Troop 35001 created poster boards with a topic (hibiscus flower, djembe, dance, face painting, food, games, and braiding) that they researched with the help of volunteers to follow the history of their topic from its origin to how it is utilized now. They also looked at the cultures their topic influenced, if/how it was adapted, and how to teach other Girl Scouts about appropriation, cultural exchange, and these traditions. During the event, the girls were able to teach other girls and families in the community about what they learned with an interactive component to their display.
- Hibiscus – at their table they had the traditional recipe of West African Zobo (hibiscus flower tea) to offer to the community and also had a more modernized Mexican cold drink called Jamaica agua fresca.
- Djembe – this table had a traditional djembe along with a craft to create own of their own for the families to do and take home.
- Dance – the entire event volunteers, girls, and participants all followed along with a step choreographer that taught the history of step dance while choreographing a routine with us from Oakland’s Malonga Casquelourd Center for The Arts.
- Face Painting – the girls discussed how face painting was traditionally used for religious purposes, traditions, and culturally; during the event, we asked the families what made them feel empowered to be then painted.
- Food – we chose to offer for everyone West African food and served jollof rice, plantains, spinach, jerk chicken, and cassava cake.
- Games – the girls highlighted the game mancala while sharing the history and playing the game.
- Braiding – a volunteer and girl taught others how to braid, the history of braiding as a means of communication between enslaved people, and the influence of African braiding on Filipino culture.
- Want to know how Jamaican cuisine originated? Check out this article!
- Curious about what our commitment as a council to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging means for you as a volunteer? Dig into our volunteer policy and culture code!
Milan Scott-Dunham – Milan Scott-Dunham is the Community Pilots Manager in Antioch for Girl Scouts of Northern California. Milan recently received her BA in Human Development from California State University – East Bay and now pursuing her master’s degree at Saint Mary’s College. She has been working with youth since age 10 and has worked with children of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities for most of her career. When she is not pursuing more college degrees, or working at Girl Scouts, she enjoys spending her time being a mother to her four children (7, 5, 3, and 1) and a devoted wife.