Imagining Better Futures: A Vision for Black Girls' Lives
Artwork by Paul Davey. From This American Life.com
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Black girls in majority-white schools face higher suspension and detention rates than their white counterparts. They are over-policed for the way they talk, the way they wear their hair, and how fast they put their phones away.
Monique Morris details what Black girls have always known in her book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. In the book she describes a host of practices that end up disengaging Black girls from school and makes them disproportionately more likely to be punished in school. These practices are a result of an education that expects Black girls to conform to a system create for and by white students/adults. In response, some Black girls fight back, refusing to be molded into an unauthentic version of themselves.
As educators, we must fight back against these practices. We must refuse programs that teach our girls how to be more "respectable," more "tame," and less themselves.
After all, Black girls are watching us. They're counting on us.
Black girls are experts in their own lives. Here is Tania describing what Morris details in her book:
"In high school there's only nine black girls in my graduating class. So you kind of know that you're different than other people. You have to be held.... not that you have to be.... but there is a different standard. If I were to act like a certain way when I was growing up it wouldn't be "oh she's young and innocent, it would be like 'oh, we need to reprimand her."
But it's not just k-12, Black girls also experience feelings of isolation and harm in higher education, even on campuses that advertise themselves as "diverse and inclusive"
"In certain spaces I would say it's very isolating it's like you don't really feel appreciated. You don't feel as though the administration actively cares about really making an inclusive environment. And not even in just how many people are in the room and in how you teach. how you treat, not just the students, but how you treat the faculty, the staff, how you treat everybody. who is on the administration? what do the deans look like? What do your chancellors look like? - Jasmine
And for some of them the current moment is really scary because it reminds them of what their families already went through.
"That's The scary part when things happen like this. So this has already happened to my family and like a lot of other families and its like 'Is going to happen again?!?' cause its not fair, like its not fair...[gently slams table]] we've worked so hard... And Like. I don't want it to happen again. It's not fair." -Sasha