I’m working on updating an older paper on high school feminism for publication, and stumbled across this report released in February of this year by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) called “Black Girls Matter: Pushed-Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected.”
Having heard about yet another murder of a young black transgender woman murdered in Florida this year, I wanted to give myself a refresher on this important study analyzing the intersections of gender, race, class, and age that shape young black women’s identities. What can we learn from some infographics today?
Lesson 1: As exemplified by schools in New York, black girls are disciplined significantly more than other racial populations in proportion to their numbers of enrollment.
Lesson 2: Black girls are fifty-three times more likely to be expelled in New York City and ten times more likely to be expelled in Boston than white girls.
Lesson 3: Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls in New York.
And what about the rest of the fifty states? What’s all of this lack of education and overpolicing do to impact the lives of young black girls across America?
Stereotypes that black girls are dumb, immodest, or belligerent cause young black women to struggle emotionally and economically. In the words of Thahabu Gordon describing her experiences as a young African American girl,
“As long as I was ‘respectable,’ I was better than more urban girls. By seventh grade, I had internalized those concepts and avoided hanging around black girls who exclusively listened to rap and weren’t afraid of enthusiastically expressing their opinions. I was conditioned to think I was better than them. You would never have caught me in a tight dress or short bottoms because I was trying to distance myself from being volatile and hypersexual—aka, ‘that black girl.'”
Without full access to education, black girls become a nearly minuscule portion of the the black faculty, black STEM majors, black graduate students, black undergraduates, and black professional students that go on to be entrepreneurs, political leaders, and scholars.
By the way, there’s a real shortage of black girls represented in the world of infographics online…I’m going to work on this. #BlackGirlsMatter