We Are the Radical Monarchs

Movie review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
We Are the Radical Monarchs Movie Poster Image
Docu about girls' social justice troop inspires all ages.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 95 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Touches on themes of being fair to people of all races, immigration statuses, body types, gender identities, sexual orientations, etc. Also demonstrates kids speaking up for what is right by going to protests and talking to legislators.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two Radical Monarch troop leaders are queer Latinx and Black moms who are assertive and strong leaders. Latinx and Black girls display courage and integrity and are not afraid to speak up for what they believe in.

Violence

Upsetting news stories are discussed throughout, and police brutality against Black people is a recurring theme. Animation of police officer pointing a gun at a Black man. Sound clips from news talking about Orlando shooting at gay nightclub. The girls meet a trans person who talks about being afraid to walk in public. Latinx girls talk about fear of having family members being deported.

Sex

During LGBTQ+ unit, teachers are defining sex, gender, and sexual orientation and say that "sex" is about your body parts and "sexual orientation" is about who you love. 

Language

"F--k" is seen written once, briefly. Other brief strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults reference having a drink for a birthday celebration.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that We Are the Radical Monarchs is a documentary about kid activists focusing on social justice in Oakland. Potentially upsetting news stories and current events are discussed throughout, and police brutality against Black people is a recurring theme. There's an animation of a police officer pointing a gun at a Black man. There are sound clips from the news talking about the Orlando gay nightclub shooting. The girls meet a trans person who talks about being afraid to walk in public, and some Latinx girls talk about the fear of having family members being deported. The word "f--k" is seen once, briefly, written down, and there's a bit of additional strong language. While the kids take action and are hopeful about making change, the documentary is frank about the tough realities of life for underrepresented people in the United States.

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What's the story?

WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS is a documentary about a Girl Scouts-esque troop in Oakland, California, where Black and Latina girls earn badges for skills like "#BlackLivesMatter" and "Radical Beauty." The documentary focuses on Radical Monarch founders Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest as they run their troop and try to expand the organization into something larger. It shows them teaching units to the 8- to 13-year-old Monarchs around LGBTQ+ issues, Black Lives Matter, activism, disability, and body image. The Monarchs attend the Trans March, the Women's March protesting President Trump's inauguration, and an Oakland City Council meeting to speak about rent protection. Current event news stories of 20152016 are woven throughout the story of the Monarchs for context, including stories about deaths protested by the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2016 election. The film climaxes with an uplifting trip to California's capitol building to speak to legislators, and with seeing several older girls graduate from the Radical Monarchs.

Is it any good?

This documentary is inspiring and thought-provoking for kids and adults alike. Kids, especially girls, will enjoy seeing their peers unafraid to speak up for what they believe in. By watching the Radical Monarchs leaders teach their troop members, grown-ups can see great examples of how to talk about tough issues to kids in an age-appropriate way. The adults and kids featured in We Are the Radical Monarchs are excellent strong female role models, and kids with an interest in activism will be particularly into this documentary.

The parts that focus on the troop leaders' struggles to organize, fund, and expand the Monarchs may seem less relevant to kids, but the film is likely to inspire questions from kids about how they can be activists for causes they believe in, and from adults about how they can raise activist kids engaged in social justice issues. Ideally, parents and kids could watch this documentary together, as there are a lot of difficult subjects that the film explores that might lead to tough but important questions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the girls in We Are the Radical Monarchs are learning about things that are unfair and then trying to change them. It takes a lot of courage to speak up for what's right, especially when you're a kid. What are some things in the world your family would like to change? How can you start?

  • The Radical Monarchs are all about making sure people are treated fairly and speaking the truth even if it's uncomfortable. What were all the times you saw the Monarchs acting with integrity in the film?

  • The Radical Monarchs showed excellent communication skills through protests and speaking with legislators. What are some ways you could communicate your ideas about important issues?

  • The Monarchs are a great example of teamwork: They accomplish a lot more as a group than any one girl could by herself. How could you work as a team to change something in your community?

Movie details

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