Hi This is Oscar Cielos Staton with your precast on Educating African American Girls. Our talk on March 9th will provide more insight and a deeper perspective than this humble male Honduran immigrant can provide. But nonetheless it is my goal today to get you to start thinking more on this topic and preparing your questions for our upcoming talk.
I ask what about black girls here because awareness (justifiably so) is growing on the racial disparities facing people of color in U.S. education and efforts are being made in some communities to lift up students of color BUT there is less awareness on girls of color specifically.
Before I go on, let me just say that for the sake of brevity, I’m aware I’m throwing around simple terms like white and black, while there is more complexity than that in the definition. I apologize in advance if it offends anyone as that is definitely NOT the goal here. In addition, I’m focusing only on the African American plight here even though my Hispanic Americans are also facing similar challenges. I want to address this on a separate show. I also want to address the challenges all minorities face in public education in future shows.
Let’s get back to the African American girls!
According to the research, black male students are most frequently suspended and likely to receive harsh punishments at school disproportionally. BUT there is a bigger disparity in punishment between black and white girls than the disparity between black and white boys. In fact, black girls are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls. Black boys, on the other hand, are three times more likely to be suspended than white boys.
You hear the outcry for mentoring and programs for African American students across the country. It’s necessary when we know suspensions and expulsion from school are related to long term consequences like involvement in the criminal justice system, and not the good kind of involvement. But intervention formulated so far may help address racial or cultural particularities but is it specific about gender?
A very important piece of this topic is the study by Columbia University law professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, Prisciall Ocen and Jyoti Nanda. It says:
“If the challenges facing girls of color are to be addressed, then research and policy frameworks must move beyond the notion that all of the youth of color who are in crisis are boys, and that the concerns of white girls are indistinguishable from those of girls of color.”
They go on to say “…much of the existing research literature excludes girls from the analysis, leading many stakeholders to infer that girls of color are not also at risk.”
The study goes deep into the findings made from looking at New York City and Boston and the achievement gaps and harsher forms of discipline for students of color. They go into the zero tolerance environments where discipline is prioritized over educational attainment.
What we need to do moving forward is find creative and tangible ways to promote awareness of the challenges black girls are facing in school, as well as find solutions that promote understanding. Many are suggested in the readings but I’m also interested in hearing from school leaders on the ground throughout the U.S. as well as the parents and mostly stories from African American girls themselves.
What are your specific experiences? What have you witnessed in schools? What are the challenges facing your community? Join us for the talk and leave us your comments here! We want to hear from you!