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

You Know Madeleine McCann. These Missing Girls Of Color Are Cold Cases, Too.

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared on May 3, 2007 from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Her story became an international sensation. What had become of the angelic, little, blonde British girl? Had she been murdered by her parents? Abducted and sold into a pedophilia ring?

It’s been 10 year’s and Madeleine’s story still captures headlines. In March 2019, she was the subject of the Australian podcast Maddie, and a Netflix series called The Disappearance of Madeline McCann. So why do we remain captivated by the fate of this specific little girl, especially when so many other children go missing every day? The answer might have something to do with a phenomenon coined “missing white woman syndrome” by journalist Gwen Ifill to refer to the media’s obsession with covering the cases of missing and endangered white women like Natalee Holloway, Elizabeth Smart, and Mollie Tibbetts.

While every missing person deserves attention, not all cases are treated equally in the media. In particular, there seems to be little interest in missing persons of color – even children as young at Madeleine. Zach Sommers, a law and science fellow at Northwestern University School of Law undertook a study to empirically prove the largely anecdotal theory that women of color receive different treatment from the media. He found distinct disparities in race and gender in both how often the media covered missing women of color, and in the intensity of that coverage once it did appear in the news, with the numbers overwhelmingly favoring white women and girls.

Read more at Refinery 29

Naomi Wadler Continues Her Activism for Black Girls One Year After Walkouts

Young activist Naomi Wadler’s fight for Black girls didn’t end after the March for our Lives

“Black women [are] really what I like to focus on because we’re not really seen as women. We’re seen as things,” she stated. “I love treating people like people.”

Wadler, whose speech and activism made waves after the school shooting in Parkland says the attack really accentuated her point about gun violence and people of color.

“When you have mass shootings in Chicago you don’t really see that getting all this attention,” she explained. “But when Parkland, which happened to some white kids, that’s suddenly the biggest thing that’s ever happened to us and that’s unacceptable.”

Since staging her elementary school’s gun violence walkout, Wadler was a guest on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” made Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 list, and spoke at events like the Women in the World Annual Summit. She works with multiple organizations, including holding a seat on the board of Georgetown Law’s Initiative on Gender, Justice, and Opportunity.

Learn more at Now This News

What We Risk When We Fail to Protect Black Girls

Last month, the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly elevated the claims against the R&B singer as a serial abuser of women and girls. Kelly was charged in Illinois on Friday with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

But what also became apparent from the docuseries was the number of adults—from Kelly’s manager to parents of the minors he is believed to have violated—who were complicit in his systematic abuse of underage Black girls. Beyond the pain his alleged victims suffered, the docuseries highlighted that these girls were not afforded the protection they deserve as children, much like Black girls at large.

Such disregard for Black girls and women’s safety has public health consequences. Notably, emerging research implicates this systematic lack of protection in the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Black girls and women. This was also evident in the docuseries: One woman said she acquired an STI from Kelly.

Read more at Rewire News

The Legal System Has Failed Black Girls, Women, and Non-Binary Survivors of Violence

Following the airing of Lifetime’s six-part docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” — which describes decades of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse he allegedly perpetrated against Black girls and women — many of Kelly’s fans and supporters continue to rally around the singer-songwriter and even place blame on his accusers for being “fast.”

This is not surprising. Studies have shown that Black girls, women, and non-binary people are hyper-vulnerable to abuse. About 22 percent of Black women in the United States have experienced rape. Forty percent will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. And Black women are killed at a higher rate than any other group of women. A 2015 survey of Black trans and non-binary individuals found that 53 percent have experienced sexual violence, and 56 percent have experienced domestic violence. At least 16 Black trans people were reportedly murdered in 2018 alone.

Read more at the ACLU

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. 

Parents Must Shut Down the School-to-Prison Pipeline

When Zakiya Sankara-Jabar’s son was repeatedly suspended from his Pre-K program, she was shocked at first. The preschool kept calling her to say her son was in trouble for biting other students or having trouble transitioning from one activity to another. In Zakiya’s view, “They made normal three-year-old behavior sound very pathologized and abnormal.” Eventually, she had to withdraw her son from the school but he was subsequently suspended and expelled at other preschools.

Zakiya had to drop out of college to care for her son but before she did, she used the college’s library services to search for articles on the experiences of black boys in public education. She quickly learned that her family’s experiences were not unusual. “I suddenly realized that I wasn’t a bad parent and my son wasn’t abnormal. This was something larger, more societal, that was happening to African American parents.”

It turns out that the school-to-prison pipeline starts in Pre-K, especially for black boys. Suspensions are the beginning of the school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to harsh and racially inequitable school discipline policies that push students out of school, onto the street, and eventually into the criminal justice system. Boys of color and those with special needs are especially impacted but girls of color also face discriminatory discipline.

Read more at The American Prospect 

On The Criminal Justice System And Its Biases Against Black Women And Girls

Black girls and women are more likely than any other group of people in America to become victims of sexual violence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Another crushing reality is the vast majority of sexual assault victims don’t see their offenders brought to justice in a court of law. It’s even harder for Black girls and women to get the justice they deserve. There’s a crucial reason for this: Black girls and women are not believed in court.

During my legal career, I’ve served as a public defender and private defense lawyer. I’ve represented clients in criminal matters including murders, rapes, high volume drug cases, sex crimes, and federal offenses. What I’m going to lay out here may be disheartening, but one of the most important aspects in any trial is believability. The judge or jury’s ability to believe one side versus the other is often the determining factor between a guilty or not guilty verdict. In the law, we use the term believability interchangeably with the term credibility. As for Black women and girls, believability and credibility are not assigned to us the way it is for others. This may sound anecdotal, but research proves it.

Read more at Essence. 

Watch The OverExplainer Break Down What It Actually Means To “Protect Black Girls”

Protect Black Girls has been a rallying cry recently and yes it’s a beautiful thing to see society rally around a group who is typically thought of in negative stereotypes or not at all. There’s even a petition for the internet to pledge protection for Black girls. But what does that actually mean?

Learn more at Essence. 

On R. Kelly and How We Fail Black Girls

Earlier this month, two million viewers tuned in for the premiere of Lifetime’s six-part documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly”. The docuseries chronicled the R&B musician’s reported legacy of alleged abuse, predatory behavior and child pornography charges throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Episodes prominently featured the testimony of R. Kelly’s victims, as well as clinical specialists and activists like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. Among this wide swath of voices, a common observation was situated at the center of nearly every interview. Survivors and commentators alike remarked that Black women and girls aren’t seen as victims in situations of sexual violence as a result of societal misogynoir. This documentary reveals a disturbing pattern of racist institutional failings endemic to the American criminal-legal system—failures only further complicated by the state violence that Black citizens routinely face from the same law enforcement officials that claim to protect the public from abusers like R. Kelly.

Read more at the Duke Chronicle