Decriminalizing Black Girls

A report from the Legal Aid Justice Center earlier this year found a 60% increase in criminal charges against black girls in schools over the last three years, for everything from cutting the lunch line to running in the cafeteria.

It’s not just happening in Virginia, either. Monique Morris, an author, scholar and filmmaker, breaks down the causes behind the national crisis of black girls being removed from school in her new documentary, “Pushout: the Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools.”

In limited release, the film is coming to Richmond on Nov 12 for a screening at Virginia Union University following a rally by Girls for a Change, a local nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of black girls.

Read more at Style Weekly. 

Black kids go missing at a higher rate than white kids.

The chilling story of Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old Wisconsin girl who was kidnapped after her parents were killed last year, was national news.

But people might be less familiar with the story of Arianna Fitts, a 2-year-old who went missing in 2016 before her mother was found brutally murdered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Each of these cases is compelling, but the two didn’t receive the same amount of media attention. Some experts believe it’s because Closs is white and Fitts is black.

In fact, data shows that missing white children receive far more media coverage than missing black and brown children, despite higher rates of missing children among communities of color.

Read more at CNN. 

The criminalization of black girlhood

“The Black woman is the most unprotected, unloved woman on earth. … She is the only flower on earth … that grows unwatered.” This quote by Kola Boof, a Sudanese American novelist, reigns true for black girls and women throughout every generation. For centuries, black girls and women have been criminalized, dehumanized, hypersexualized, degraded, objectified and stereotyped. From a young age, black girls are viewed as threats and often face criminalization in the very place where they should be getting an education: school.

Read more at the Ithacan. 

The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

The new book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools is an examination of the experiences of Black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged “by teachers, administrators, and the justice system and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish.” In the book, author Monique Morris shows how, despite obstacles, stigmas, stereotypes, and despair, Black girls still find ways to breathe remarkable dignity into their lives in classrooms, juvenile facilities, and beyond.

Learn more at Truthout. 

Fighting the Degrading and Dangerous Treatment of Menstruating Migrant Girls

It was only a matter of time before President Donald Trump made headlines again over periods.

Just four years ago, in August 2015, he accused then–Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly after the first presidential debate of having “blood coming out of her wherever.” The charge landed the once-taboo topic of menstruation smack in the middle of election coverage—and on the front page of nearly every major national and small-town newspaper in between. It even generated its own viral hashtag, #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult.

Now, 19 states filed a lawsuit in California this week against the Trump administration for the indefinite detention of and conditions endured by migrant children and their families. Among the charges of hygiene deprivation for children detained at the border—including the alleged lack of basics like toothpaste and bars of soap—is insufficient access to menstrual products and care. Testimony in the lawsuit included that: “Girl(s) at the facility…were each given one sanitary pad per day. Although the guards knew they had their periods, they were not offered showers or a change of clothes, even when the other girl visibly bled through her pants.”

Read more at Ms. Magazine. 

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.

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.

Cyntoia Brown Is Getting Back The Childhood She & So Many Young Black Girls Never Had

The cruel joke of being a poor black girl in the South is that you are grown before you ask to be, and your childhood slips away before you can spell. Black girls are not given the kindness that southern gentility cultivates for white girls who make a few bad choices. Instead, black women and girls like Cyntoia Brown are jailed, punished, and killed for trying to survive in a world in which they were never meant to last.

In 2006, at the age of 16, Brown was sentenced to life in prison as an adult for shooting and killing Johnny Allen. Brown testified in her appeals hearing that she had been abused, raped, and forced into survival sex work, and said she shot Allen in fear for her life when she thought he reached for a gun after he paid her for sex.

For the past 15 years, Brown was incarcerated in a Tennessee prison, but this January, news broke that she would be released in seven months after outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam granted her a full commutation. She was officially released from prison Wednesday at age 31 and will serve 10 years of parole.

“At the crux of Cyntoia Brown’s story and her criminalization, we all can recognize that this baby does not belong in a cage at all and never did belong in a cage,” Brianna Baker, a teacher and the founder of Justice for Black Girls, tells Bustle. “She hasn’t had access to her girlhood for her entire life. Yes, we take the victory, but it’s bittersweet.”

Brown’s story is one of personal perseverance but also one of the power and strength of community organizing. The news of Brown’s commutation prompted a wail of relief from the black folks who have been on the frontlines of advocacy work around her case since 2011.

Read more at Bustle. 

Team GB’s only black swimmer: ‘I understand why girls would quit over their hair’

“I vividly remember a black girl saying at training that the reason black girls don’t swim is because of their hair.

“I was about 12 or 13 at the time and had never thought of the idea of hair stopping you from swimming. Now that I am older I can fully understand why someone would quit over their hair.”

Alice Dearing, a 22-year-old student at Loughborough University, is one of Great Britain’s top female marathon swimmers.

She’s also currently the only black swimmer on Team GB and is only the second to represent them in the water.

Read more at BBC.