WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS- review by Liz Whittemore

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Two Moms on a mission to find inclusion for their daughters led to the formation of the Radical Monarchs. It is a group, similar to the Girl Scouts, where girls of color can identify more closely with their own life experiences. Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest are the co-founders. They met in college. Both identified as queer. Both had community organizer backgrounds. They immediately clicked. They teach the Radical Monarchs confidence, pride, truth, acceptance, justice, and beyond. Children truly are sponges. They hear and see what is happening in the world. Just because they are young does not mean they are dumb. These girls are learning from history to make a better future.

The documentary’s structure is a mix of sit down interviews, troop meetings, events, media coverage, and world events spanning the years from 2015 to 2017. We also see Martinez and Hollinquest develop a second troop and all that entails. We get to explore merit units including Black Lives Matter, Radical Beauty, Radical Coding, Radical Love, Radical Justice, Radical Bodies, Radical Roots, Radical Entrepreneurship, Radical Healing, and Radical Advocacy — each earning a badge for the girls. No surprise that Fox News reported they were indoctrinating these girls to be little racists. Their talking heads think that the girls should be learning how to sew, sell cookies, and survival skills. The funny thing is that they’re learning all those skills through social justice, through workshops, and yes, even at camp outs where they journal and make s’mores. The most visually striking moments come in a repetition of animated screen printed scenes. It’s a beautiful through-line.

I want my 3-year-old white daughter to use the Radical Monarchs’ curriculum moving forward in her educational path. I want every single school, organized group, platform to seize the opportunity to spread love and truth in the way the Radical Monarchs do. This group and this documentary highlight the need to create spaces for girls of color to feel seen and heard. We Are The Radical Monarchs is incredibly important for white women. Visibility matters. Experience matters. Not just being an ally but actually showing up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We Are The Radical Monarchs is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 24, 2020

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Liz Whittemore

Liz Whittemore is the author of AWFJ's I SCREAM YOU SCREAM blog. She is Co-Managing Editor and writes for www.ReelNewsDaily.com, hosts the podcast Girls On Film and is a contributing writer for Cinemit.com and The ArtsWireWeekly. Now New York-based, she was born and raised in northern Connecticut. She's a graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy, and has performed at Disneyland and famed Hartford Children's Theater, and been a member of NYC's Boomerang Theater, Connecticut's Simsbury Summer Theater, Virginia's Offstage Theatre, where she also directed. Her film credits include Suburban Skies and Surrender. In 2008, she shot Jabberwocky, a documentary now in post-production. Liz is still a children's theatre director and choreographer. She's working on an updated adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and a series of children's books.