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.

Muslim American girls need to see their role models reflected in the spotlight, too

Muslim American children have always had a scarcity of role models, but this fact didn’t really make an impression on me until recently. Back from a recent author trip to Chicago, where I’d visited the lovely Anderson’s Bookstore, I handed my daughter her gift. It was an illustrated biography collection with 27 famous women — one for each letter of the alphabet. She squealed and quickly rifled through the pages, flipping to M for Malala and B for Benazir Bhutto. “Those are the only Muslim ones,” she told me, smiling a little with sad eyes.

“We’ll read this together at bedtime,” I promised her. It’s been a tradition in my house since the first such book was published around the 2016 election, when we discovered the original “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.” That book signaled the start of a trend geared mostly toward girls: collected biographies with popping art, catering to a younger audience. It’s been followed by a plethora of similar books based on race, field of study and even immigrant status. My personal favorite remains “First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great.”

Read more at The Washington Post

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

Got Consent Takeover by A Long Walk Home

A message from A Long Walk Home:

We would like to thank all of our participants for joining us for Got Consent Takeover by standing in solidarity with Black girls and survivors everywhere as R Kelly made his first appearance in court for sexual abuse charges on March 22. We will continue to put survivors first and fight for justice as the trial continues, and as Black girls and women continue to share their stories. Here is a snapshot of some of our A Long Walk Home family, friends, and allies, as they stand in solidarity with Black girls & survivors!

Check out photos from the takeover below:

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