The Millennial Womanism Project (TMWP) Presents “Millennial Womanists To Watch”
A monthly profile highlighting emerging voices doing incredible work in ministry, the academy and in social justice work.
Name: Yasmine Arrington
City: Washington, D.C.
TMWP: What does it mean to be a millennial woman of African descent in ministry, mentoring and modeling?
Yasmine Arrington: First, all of these elements make up my identity and both influence and contribute to how I move in the world. I identify as a Christian, as a woman, an African American woman and Millennial. As a Christian and a minister, I come with a faith-based foundation and believe that faith is an essential and necessary part of everything that I do – whether it is as I lead my nonprofit organization, as I mentor students and scholars, as I travel across the country to speak to audiences, as I seek to change the national narrative of youth with incarcerated parents; and as I demonstrate the importance of self-love and body diversity, as a proud full-figured woman, in modeling clothing for some of the top clothing brands in the country. My worldview and mindset is one that remembers the past, in my personal life and socio-historically, but always has hope for the future. As a millennial, I carry the mindset that youth do not have to wait until they get older or accrue pages of credentials to start making a positive difference. I am a believer and participant in peer collaboration, grassroots organizing and developing support systems of people and networks.
I am a peacemaker, a champion for positive change, and a cheerleader for youth and cross-cultural and intergenerational collaboration. I understand how the world has viewed women historically and their roles in society and how women are often viewed, undervalued and overlooked in denominational Black Church. I understand that if we as individuals do not come up with our own ideas of what is important to us and stick to our principles, then we allow society to feed us a tainted perspective, which many times is oppressive and limiting. I am led by the Holy Spirit in everything that I do. I am not ashamed of who I am – and it is because of my full awareness and ownership of my identity and my purpose that I can walk into any room and make a roar that ripples and resounds with hearts and minds. I hold a precious identity as a Black woman, that through eras has been oppressed, raped, abused, ignored and exploited. NOT ON MY WATCH! Ain’t nobody got time for that – life is too short for me to play around with my gifts.
TMWP: Tell us about your work. What inspired you to do this work?
Yasmine Arrington: I am the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, ScholarCHIPS, Inc. (www.scholarchipsfund.org). ScholarCHIPS provides college scholarships, mentorship and a support network to youth who have incarcerated parents, who are pursuing their college degree. I founded ScholarCHIPS as a junior in high school (2010), when I realized that there were no college scholarships in the DC Metropolitan Area to support youth like me, with incarcerated parents.
I was a participant in a program called LearnServe International, which is an afterschool, extracurricular organization program that trains and equips high school students to be social change agents and social entrepreneurs. In the program, we have to identify an issue we wanted to see change and then come up with a “venture,” which is a creative solution to a social problem. The social ill I identified was Mass Incarceration or more specifically “The Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children and Families.” My creative solution to this problem was ScholarCHIPS. What if I could create a community of youth who have incarcerated parents and provide them with all the support they need to graduate college and be successful in life post college? This would then help us break cycles of intergenerational poverty and incarceration, amongst groups who are marginalized and disadvantaged, due in large to our massive penal system, which divides families and does not promote rehabilitation and family unification.
I am inspired to do this work because I know what it is like to have an incarcerated parent and to miss that parent for many years of childhood – the emotional, physical, psychological and financial effects it has on children and families. I am inspired to do this work because of the amazing, resilient, loving, intelligent scholars I get to work with and stay in relationship with. I am inspired to do this work because of my long-term vision of a world where children of incarcerated parents are no longer marginalized and stigmatized by society, have equal access to higher education, and, ultimately, experience a future absent of poverty and incarceration.
TMWP: How does your work expand traditional womanist epistemologies? Or How does womanism inform the work you do?
Yasmine Arrington: I am a walking-breathing Womanist, as a Black woman who advocates for and helps provide resources and community for other African-American women and women of color to advance their socio-economic position in society. My daily, grassroots work is empowering young women of color to be educated, influential, compassionate, unapologetic leaders while resisting oppressive, misogynistic and dominant white supremacist systems.
Womanism informs the work that I do, in the fiber of the reason it emerged. The point of the matter is that Black women were always at the forefront of and directly impacting movements such as Women’s Right to Vote, The Civil Rights Movement and many other transformational movements in the history of human rights, but ironically, we were often denied the rights and recognition we were fighting for. I am that “in your face,” unapologetic Black woman who leads and empowers women of color to maximize their potential and use their identity to create lasting impact in their families and communities.
TMWP: What can we expect from you within the next year?
Yasmine Arrington: In July 2018, I became the full-time Executive Director of ScholarCHIPS, so you will definitely see and hear more in the media about our work –more radio, news and television interviews. You may also catch one of our scholars or me in your city speaking at an event, conference or panel. I am a 2019 Just Leadership USA Leading with Conviction Fellow and am hoping to join some other prestigious fellowship families in 2019 – so I will be continuing to develop my leadership skills, communications and research in supporting youth with incarcerated parents and their families.
You may see me modeling in some campaigns for some well-known plus size brands!
I am not sure what else you can expect to see from me in the next year, but I am always grateful for the opportunities I receive to inform people, inspire people to action, and be one of the leaders in the social/criminal justice and social innovation spaces.
TMWP: How can people support your work?
Yasmine Arrington: We can always use your support in the form of a donation to the ScholarCHIPS organization! You can donate by visiting our website (www.scholarchipsfund.org) and clicking the donate button, which will take you to our PayPal page. You can make a donation through your PayPal account or by a debit or credit card. You can also write a check and mail to our P.O. Box. You can also support by connecting us with other people and organizations who are doing this work, by inviting us to come to speak to your group or at your next event or volunteering your skills to help us move the mission forward!
TMWP: Where can we go for more information and updates?
Yasmine Arrington: To get more information and updates, periodically visit ScholarCHIPS’ website at www.scholarchipsfund.org. You are also most welcome and encouraged to follow ScholarCHIPS on social media platforms. I am also on social media.
Check out this 2018 NBC 4 news feature on ScholarCHIPS: https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Program-Gives-Scholarships-to-Students-With-Parents-in-Jail_Washington-DC-500731002.html
Twitter, Instagram: @Yazziespeaks
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin: @ScholarCHIPS
Millennial Womanism is an emerging concept developed by Liz S Alexander and Melanie C Jones that seeks to draw upon a unique womanist epistemological and methodological framework utilizing a millennial lens.