Half of black girls report being sexually coerced. There are ways we can help protect them.

All women have a difficult time proving sexual abuse, but for black women and girls, it can be nearly impossible. So they often suffer in silence and abuse goes unreported. The decision by some African American women not to report their sexual assaults may also be influenced by a criminal justice system that historically has treated European-American perpetrators and victims differently than perpetrators and victims of color.

According to National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, among students, 11.2% of black girls in a national high school sample reported they had been raped and 52% of a black Midwestern high school and college students reported sexual coercion.

The purpose of the #Metoo movement, founded by Tarana Burke, was to empower women of color living in underprivileged communities who had experienced sexual abuse. She created a hashtag for the voiceless. But this movement has become a catalyst for white Hollywood actresses. Moving far from its source, one seldom hears references to the founder or to black women in the mainstream #Metoo discussion

Read more at the Journal Sentinel.

Schools keep punishing girls who report sexual assaults, and the Trump administration’s Title IX reforms won’t stop it

Early in the morning on Nov. 7, 2017, a teacher noticed a 14-year-old girl crying in the hallway at Carol City High School in Miami-Dade County. The girl, who was later referred to in court papers as Jane Doe, reportedly told the teacher, “I think I was raped.”

Moments later, Doe went to the assistant principal’s office to tell administrators about the three boys who she said sexually assaulted her in a school bathroom. A school police officer questioned Doe, a Latina ninth-grader, and asked her to write a statement about what happened. Later that day, Carol City High administrators decided the event was consensual. They suspended Doe and the three accused boys for 10 days, noting that the students had violated rules against “inappropriate sexual behavior” on campus, according to the state attorney’s office.

“School is supposed to be a resourceful place, somewhere you can trust,” Jane Doe, now 16, told The 74. “That wasn’t what it turned out to be. It turned out to be somewhere where they just turned their backs against you.”

The scenario that played out at Carol City High mirrors cases around the country. A school in Piscataway, New Jersey, handed a 10-day suspension for “disorderly conduct” to a black girl who said she had been sexually assaulted on a bus. After a girl in Tucson, Arizona, said that she had been raped, the school district suspended her for “public sexual indecency.” A Brooklyn, New York, high school suspended a 15-year-old female black-Hispanic student “with well-documented developmental disabilities” who was sexually assaulted by a group of boys, according to the complaint, because administrators considered it “consensual sexual conduct on school premises.” At least one of the accused male students was later charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

Read more at the LA School Report.

What Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye, Taught Me About Being a Black Girl in America

In 1994, I was a 4th grader with an imagination that often found me daydreaming myself far, far away from the confines of my windowless classroom, from the boring, incomplete or inaccurate history lessons and the math that was becoming increasingly difficult to perform. Though I loved books, I also found myself in need of escape from the overwhelmingly white children that dominated so much of the literature my all-Black classmates and I were tasked with reading.

Leisure reading gave me the freedom to seek representation on the page, but that wasn’t always the easiest task. There were some options crafted for young African-American readers, but the vast majority of pre-teen lit was about white kids. I found some common ground with the members of The Babysitters Club and the “perfect size 6”-wearing twins of Sweet Valley High when I could. But they were no match for the magic of seeing the world through the eyes of Black authors, even if most Black-penned fiction was written for adult audiences. I had to find myself where I could, and it was that search for stories that felt like they were penned with me in mind that led me to The Bluest Eye, the first novel of Toni Morrison, the Nobel prize winning author who died last week at the age of 88.

Read more at Refinery29. 

How Negative Perceptions At School Can Impact on Black Girls And Their Education

School is one of the most important early environments to foster future success in a child, and teachers play a huge part in crafting what their students’ future lives and careers will look like.

But when teachers play such an important role in guiding young and vulnerable mini-adults through the world, what happens when certain children aren’t given the same attention as their peers? When a child is seen as needing less nurture and support than their classmates, what kind of long-lasting impact can this have?

In 2017, Georgetown Law’s Centre on Poverty and Inequality released “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood“, a study that provided data showing that “adults view black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5-14.” Because of this, they are seen as needing “to be comforted less” and are assumed to know more about “adult topics”.

Read more at Refinery29.

Sally Nuamah on how punishment against black girls impacts our democracy

As an undergraduate student at George Washington University, Sally Nuamah studied abroad in Ghana and observed the numerous barriers to achievement girls faced as they attended schools designed without them in mind.

This experience sparked her interest in researching black women and girls’ education and led her to create a documentary on the lives of girls in Ghana. Nuamah founded an organization, the TWII Foundation, that has supported around 30 girls with the resources they need to achieve. In fact, the screenings from her documentary raised money to send the three girls in the film to college.

Her scholarship centers on black women and girls and education, and she has received national attention for it. During her one year as an assistant professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, Nuamah was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 in education, a Chron15 pioneer and a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Now, she’ll be pursuing her studies as an assistant professor at the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy.

Read more at The Chronicle. 

For These Native American Girls, Coding Became the Language to Discuss Mental Health

Kindra Locklear was tuned in to CNN one day last fall when she came across a segment about a nonprofit organization that aims to close the gender gap in technology by teaching young girls to code. It struck a chord.

Locklear works in the information technology department at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and sees first-hand how women are underrepresented in the field. An effort to bring more females into the field, she thought, might do her own community some good.

UNC Pembroke, located in a small, rural town in south-central North Carolina, was founded as a school for American Indians, and today still serves and employs many members of the Lumbee Tribe, of which Locklear is a member.

As a Lumbee woman, and a woman in tech living in a rural area, Locklear kept thinking about the nonprofit she saw on TV—Girls Who Code—and wondering if she could establish a chapter in Pembroke.

Read more at The Huffington Post. 

Why so many Latina teens in Philly have attempted suicide

A new report sheds light on a startling finding: Latina girls in Philadelphia are more likely than white or African-American girls to attempt suicide. One in seven has attempted suicide and one in five has seriously considered it. Why is this happening and why hasn’t this fact made its way into mainstream discourse about mental health?

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Aneri Pattani explains on this episode of The Why.

A new report shows how racism and bias deny black girls their childhoods

It’s long been suspected that black girls are perceived as more adult-like and less innocent than white girls in school and other environments, and a new report offers further confirmation that this is the case.

Researchers with the Initiative on Gender Justice and Opportunity at Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality spoke directly to black girls and women across the country about how they are forced to deal with harmful perceptions — like that black girls are more mature and less in need of protection than other students — from a young age.

This phenomenon, which the researchers refer to as “adultification bias,” was examined in a 2017 report from the same team. The latest report builds on those findings by including the lived experiences of black women and girls. It’s also worth noting that many of the women cited in the report recalled dealing with the same sorts of issues in their childhoods, showing that this is far from a new problem.

Read more at Vox. 

One woman’s story shows how systems are failing black girls

For the first time in a long time, C’alra Bradley felt a glint of hope.

It was an unfamiliar feeling for the then-18-year-old whose life had been disrupted and derailed by one roadblock after another. Once an A and B student who loved to read, she was living out of her white 1997 Toyota Avalon, on her own for three years, scrounging to get by.

But on July 18, 2016, as she attended one of her first classes at a GED and job training program in Houston, C’alra finally believed things were about to change.

She beamed as a career coach outlined the course ahead: the stipend for good attendance, the training on construction builds, the high school diploma at the end. C’alra (whose name is pronounced See-er-uh) could almost clasp the glimmer of a better life.

Then, with the coach’s next words, the vision evaporated: The students needed to wear work pants and closed-toe shoes for job sites.

A shadow flicked across C’alra’s face. The dress and flip-flops she wore were the only clothes she had. She had no money. No idea what to do.

Read more at USA Today.

One in 7 Latina girls in Philadelphia has attempted suicide, yet their struggles often remain invisible

Every morning when Noelia Rivera-Calderón got to high school, she’d run to the bathroom to throw up.

The first few times, the school nurse suggested she go home. But after that, the staff acted as if it were normal for her to be sick.

Every morning when Noelia Rivera-Calderón got to high school, she’d run to the bathroom to throw up.

The first few times, the school nurse suggested she go home. But after that, the staff acted as if it were normal for her to be sick.

Today, Rivera-Calderón is fighting for girls like her to be seen. She recently led a report from the National Women’s Law Center about the mental health of Latina students in Philadelphia, titled “We Are Not Invisible.”

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer.