Black Girls Matter

Pushed out, Overpoliced Underprotected  

February 4, 2015—Girls of color face much harsher school discipline than their white peers but are excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline, according to a new report issued today by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies. 

The report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, is based on a new review of national data and personal interviews with young women in Boston and New York. 

 

“As public concern mounts for the needs of men and boys of color through initiatives like the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper, we must challenge the assumption that the lives of girls and women—who are often left out of the national conversation—are not also at risk,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw, the report’s lead author.

Crenshaw, a leading authority in how law and society are shaped by race and gender, argues that an intersectional approach encompassing how related identity categories such as race, gender, and class overlap to create inequality on multiple levels is necessary to address the issue of school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline.

The study cites several examples of excessive disciplinary actions against young Black girls, including the controversial 2014 case of a 12-year-old in Georgia who faced expulsion and criminal charges for writing the word “hi” on a locker room wall.  A white female classmate who was also involved faced a much less severe punishment.  

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education cited in the report, nationally black girls were suspended six times more than white girls, while black boys were suspended three times as often as white boys.

Data specific to New York and Boston demonstrates that the relative risk for disciplinary action is higher for Black girls when compared to white girls than it is for Black boys when compared to white boys.

  • In New York, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 10 times more than those involving their white counterparts and the number of cases involving black boys was six times the number of those involving white boys, despite there being only twice as many black students as white students.

  • In Boston, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 11 times more than those involving their white counterparts while the number of cases involving black boys was approximately eight times those involving white boys, despite there being less than three times as many black students as white students.

  • Rates of expulsion were even more strikingly disproportionate between black and white students, especially among girls.

The report recommends policies and interventions to address challenges facing girls of color, including revising policies that funnel girls into juvenile supervision facilities; developing programs that identify signs of sexual victimization and assist girls in addressing traumatic experiences; advancing programs that support girls who are pregnant, parenting, or otherwise assuming significant familial responsibilities; and improving data collection to better track discipline and achievement by race/ethnicity and gender for all groups.

Click on the images below to access to the report, the executive summary, and a Black Girls Matter: Social Media Guide, which provides images, tweets, and key messages for you to use in promoting the basic point that Black Girls Matter. 

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WEBINAR: SPRING VALLEY IS EVERYWHERE: WHEN BEING A BLACK GIRL IS YOUR ONLY CRIME

NOVEMBER 3, 2015 WEBINAR RECORDING AND RESOURCES

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We are outraged by the unconscionable act of violence committed in a Spring Valley math class. While we applaud the decision of Sheriff Lott to fire Ben Fields, we are deeply concerned that charges are still pending against two young Black girls. These teenagers are not only victims of police abuse, but also of the entire regime which includes the teacher who tried to expel student from class because of a minor infraction, the administrator who escalated the situation by calling the police, the law that permits students to be arrested for “uncooperative behavior,’’ and the criminal “justice” system that continues to punish two traumatized girls rather than apologizing to them and supporting them. That these two young women are forced to confront the emotional burden of being subjected to criminal adjudication on top of having been physically and emotionally abused is further evidence of how deeply entrenched and harmful this punitive approach to education is.

 

We know that violence against Black girls and women is not new; it is the same violence that brutalized Salecia Johnson, Diamond Neals, Mikia Hutchinson, and Dajerria Becton. The vicious bodily assault on the young Black high school student is indicative of the ways that Black women and girls throughout society encounter state violence on a daily basis.  This system extends beyond Spring Valley and threatens Black girls across the United States.

HERE IS A RECORDING OF OUR WEBINAR ON BLACK GIRLS AND DISCIPLINE ENTITLED,

"SPRING VALLEY IS EVERYWHERE: WHEN BEING A BLACK GIRL IS YOUR ONLY CRIME"

This webinar amplifies the voices of young women who have been impacted by overly punitive discipline policies, educators who have witnessed the criminalization of Black girls in schools, scholars who have researched the gendered and racialized dimensions of the School to Prison Pipeline, and more.