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'You're so special' | Nonprofit aims to heal, empower Black girls in Sacramento

RoLanda Wilkins, executive director of Earth Mama Healing, has been empowering young Black girls in Sacramento for over a decade.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A group of Black teenage girls file into a classroom at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento. 

They're met at the door by RoLanda Wilkins, executive director of Earth Mama Healing. The nonprofit was established in 2011 to "create emotionally strong, spiritually connected, and socially smart girls and women."

"I really wanted to bring Black girls together to be able to learn and grow together, so that’s one of the reasons that made me start Earth Mama Healing," Wilkins said.

In order to instill a sense of pride into the girls enrolled in her program, Wilkins takes them on the 30-day Quality of Life Road Trip. She and a group of volunteers drive the girls across the United States and Canada for activities designed to understand the lifestyles and contributions of girls and women of African descent. She also holds a monthly seminar to teach Black women and girls about African spirituality.  

Wilkins, along with Dimitrius Stone of Pro Youth & Families, recently introduced the girls to a new curriculum called Love Notes, which focuses on self-love and developing healthy relationships.

Credit: ABC10/KXTV
RoLanda Wilkins,executive director of Earth Mama Healing, leads a class of Black teens at Burbank High School through lessons about self-love and healthy relationships.

"How do we know what love is? How do we know what healthy love looks like? How do we know what it really means to be in love with someone or when you're trying to have relationships, friendships, or with your kinfolk," Wilkins said. "Giving them this curriculum...will help them make better informed decisions about what it is they're trying to attain, which is love."

Wilkins said it's love for her culture that led her to empower young women. In 1982, when Wilkins was 11-years-old, she and her family moved to Sacramento from Philadelphia.

“It was a great time, but in the midst of that, what I began to feel in moving here was missing my family, my culture," Wilkins said. "I think that really impacts my work because when I was in school, I wished I had somewhere to go to learn about myself along with other Black girls."

Over the years, she started to notice Black girls struggling with loving their skin tone, hair texture, and identity. It's something Wilkins considers a residual effect of slavery and a reflection of racism in the United States.        

"Everything about us is constantly under scrutiny," Wilkins said. "Our value, our worth. Nothing about us ever belonged to us, so that is something we have to work with our young people to regain. You are so special and so unique. And it’s OK to be special and unique.”

"Ms. RoLanda digs really deep into who Black girls are and blackness period," Marshae Jackson, a senior at Burbank High School, said. "I love being a Black girl because there's nobody else like us. We're just one of a kind." 

It's comments like Jackson's that makes Wilkins' mission worthwhile.

"It makes me feel so good," Wilkins said. "The fact that I do the work that I do, that’s a part of history. I’m carrying on the tradition of caring for people and preparing the world for generations I’m never going to see.”


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February is Black History Month & ABC10 is honoring trailblazers in our area. We're profiling Louis Morton, a pioneering journalist who now lives in Sacramento.

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