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. 

Philly’s Latinx girls need more mental health support

Growing up in North Philadelphia in a Latino household, we never talked about mental health. But I knew something was off when, at age 15, I stopped wanting to go to school and was feeling depressed. Like many kids, I turned to my mom first — telling her I wanted to talk to somebody. But the Latino community faces a lot of stigmas when it comes to our mental health.

As a community, only 20 percent of us who have symptoms of a psychological disorder will talk to a doctor about our concerns and, even worse, only 10 percent of Latinos will contact a mental-health specialist, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. That’s why it should come as no surprise that my mom’s response was, “you’re just having a bad day. I have bad days, too.” But I wasn’t just having a bad day. Soon enough, I was skipping school on a regular basis and feeling sad all the time.

Read more at the Philadelphia Inquirer 

The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-Prison Nexus

Subini Ancy Annamma’s The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-Prison Nexus portrays the processes and social factors that place the bodies of multiply-marginalised dis/abled women of colour in the criminal justice system, while also putting the voices and experiences of these individuals at the centre of the book. Annamma adopts Beth Ritchie’s (2012) notion of a ‘prison nation’ and situates schools within this in order to understand how a ‘societal goal’ for public education is to fill prisons.

Throughout, Annamma chooses the term ‘dis/abled’ to signify ability as based on social context, continually shifting over time, rather than as a fixed state. In reference to her subjects, Annamma uses the word ‘girls’, though they are well into their teenage, secondary school years. In her discussions, Annamma demonstrates a commitment to intersectionality and DisCrit, which calls for a critical lens that recognises the ways that race and dis/ability are socially constructed interdependently with material, social and political impacts. Annamma employs this lens in order to understand the process behind the creation of the criminal identity in the juvenile incarceration centre and to create a pedagogy of resistance.

Read more about The Pedagogy of Pathologization on LSE’s US website.

Buy the book here. 

Monique Morris: Why Are Black Girls More Likely To Be Punished In School?

About Monique Morris’s TED Talk

Black girls are disproportionately punished more often in schools. Monique Morris says schools should be a place for healing rather than punishment to help black girls reach their full potential.

Learn more at NPR

4 Black Middle School Girls Allegedly Strip-Searched At New York State School

A community in New York state is loudly protesting after four Black girls, under suspicion of having drugs, were allegedly questioned and strip-searched by the school nurse and assistant principal at East Middle School in Binghamton.

According to the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin, almost 200 community members packed into a school board meeting, demanding why the board had taken no action in response to the alleged searches that apparently occurred after the girls, who are Black, appeared “hyper and giddy during their lunch hour.”

“The children were instructed to remove their clothing, and felt shamed, humiliated and traumatized by the experience,” said Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, a local organization in the area.

The school said that they investigated the incident, citing the current law and policy which allows students to be searched in a school building by an administrator “when the administrator reasonably suspects that a student’s health is in danger or is in possession of a substance that may harm themselves or others.”

Read more at Essence. 

Women and Girls of Color Need Justice Too

A growing number of individuals have expressed support for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ harmful Title IX proposed rules on sexual harassment, including sexual assault, in schools by pitting the rights of sexual assault survivors against efforts to further racial justice.

By doing this, these individuals—often white, self-identified feminists or conservative men—erase the experiences of survivors of color, particularly Black women and girls, who are frequently disbelieved and blamed when reporting sexual assault, pressured to stay silent about their assaults, and pushed into the criminal justice system (referred to as the “sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline”).

As survivor-advocates of color working at the intersections of racial and gender justice, we understand that women and girls of color are disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment and assault in schools. The blatant disregard for the lives of survivors of color is a common and misguided tactic that creates a false choice between protecting survivors and protecting against racially biased disciplinary practices.

Read more at ReWire

Education Dept. Safety Report Recommends Ending Discipline Policies That Protect Students Of Color

A federal commission headed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a long-awaited school safety report today that recommends, among other things, that the Department of Education abandon Obama-era policies aimed at protecting children of color from excessive discipline in school. The 177-page report says that disciplinary decisions should be left to classroom teachers and local administrators who should not have to follow guidance issued by the federal government.

Under President Obama, in 2014 the administration put districts on notice that they could be in violation of federal civil rights law if students of color were suspended, expelled or otherwise disciplined at higher rates than white students. According to the education department’s civil rights office, among the 2.6 million students suspended each year, African-American boys are three times more likely than white boys to be suspended, African-American girls are six times more likely than white girls to be suspended, and students with disabilities are more than twice as likely as other students to be suspended.

Research shows that when students are suspended, expelled or arrested, they are more likely to drop out of school and suffer negative consequences. Critics of discriminatory discipline, including the ACLU, have called it the “school to prison pipeline.”

Read more at Forbes