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.

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. 

Cyntoia Brown and how the U.S. criminal justice system fails black women and girls

One of the things I love about being a professor is the chance to start over. Although I gripe about the end of summer, each new group of students offers fresh insights and challenges.

As I head back to campus this fall, I will be thinking of Cyntoia Brown.

Cyntoia Brown was 16 years old when she was charged as an adult and convicted of premeditated first-degree murder, felony murder and “especially aggravated robbery.” Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old man, had solicited Brown for sex and taken her to his home. Ms. Brown claimed that she had shot Mr. Allen in self-defense. In 2006, she was sentenced to concurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole until she had served a minimum of 51 years.

As with other abused girls, Ms. Brown’s efforts to survive her conditions brought her into the “abuse to prison” pipeline that disproportionately affects girls of color. The abuse suffered by these girls leads to encounters with the criminal justice system, and this system treats them as perpetrators rather than as victims and survivors of abuse. Thus, rather than being sheltered, protected and provided with resources, girls who have been sexually and physically abused are criminalized for surviving their abuse.

Read more at America Magazine. 

4 Ways to Stop White Violence Against Black Women and Girls

Earlier this month a white, male animal rights activist jumped on stage and removed Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) microphone. Harris was mid-sentence in a conversation about the gender pay gap. Karine Jean-Pierre, another black woman, moved to block Harris and attempt to obtain the mic unsuccessfully from the protester.

Watching this scene as a black woman was terrifying yet familiar. This familiarity of being black, a woman, and unprotected momentarily superseded even my own political affiliations and commitment to direct action and organizing. Harris, at this moment, was yet another black woman who our society refuses to protect, respect, and regard.

Sadly, this disregard is an everyday reality for black women (trans and cis) and gender non-conforming people. We see it in the continued murder of black, trans women. It manifests in the skyrocketing suspension rates for black girls as early as pre-school. Our communities can palpate it through the disproportionately high maternal mortality rates for black women.

Read more at Sojourners Magazine

56 indigenous Washington women missing, new reports finds

The Seattle City Council on Wednesday heard testimony on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

The hearing came on the heels of months of controversy across the U.S. and Canada about failed data collection when it comes to these missing persons cases and murder investigations. On Tuesday, the Washington State Patrol released a 36-page report outlining its findings into missing girls and women.

The State Patrol found 56 women from Washington are missing, 12 from King County. Studies from across the U.S. and Canada put that figure into the thousands.

Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez called for the committee hearing to better understand data collection and to find out what political leaders and police can do to help.

Read more in KOMO News

Human trafficking largely targets Indigenous women and girls: MMIWG report

The daughter of a residential school survivor, she was placed into care at seven months, then at four adopted into a middle-class white household where she reckoned with racism and abuse.

“I was always being made aware of the colour of my skin and that it was a bad thing,” Wallace-Littlechief recalls. After standing up for herself at the age of 13, she was moved into a group home, where she was called Apple — “white on the inside and brown on the outside,” she says. She never felt accepted.

Wallace-Littlechief eventually ran away from the home. Within half an hour, she was drugged and raped, she said.

“I ended up in this home where they’re injecting me with drugs and fixing my hair and telling me how beautiful l am. They were grooming me and I soaked it up,” she said. “ I considered it love — that was the only love that I had ever experienced. They cared for me and I felt so privileged that these adults were wanting to be my friend and look after me.”

By the age of 14, she was working on the streets.

Read more at The Star Phoenix.

The Challenge Faced by Black Women Accusing Black Men

When Meredith Watson decided to publicly accuse Virginia’s lieutenant governor of raping her, she knew she would face a backlash — most women who accuse powerful men of sexual assault do.

But she also feared that as a black woman, she would face added scrutiny because the prominent politician she named, Justin E. Fairfax, was African-American, too.

“You’re not supposed to betray your race,” Ms. Watson, 39, said in her first interview since she accused Mr. Fairfax last month of assaulting her when they were in college together at Duke University nearly two decades ago. Mr. Fairfax has denied her allegations.

The #MeToo movement has brought into the open the challenges all women face when they say they have been sexually assaulted. Their accusations are disbelieved. Their motives are questioned. Their pasts are examined.

Read more at The New York Times

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:

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