A new PSA by the National Women’s Law Center shows young black girls standing up to the racist policies and stereotypes that often see them pushed out of school.
It’s part of the larger Let Her Learn movement by the NWLC that tries to end all of the policies that end up denying students their right to their education, especially at a young age.
In the case of young black girls, that usually happens through disciplinary practices and the decisions of administration. According to the NWLC, black girls are suspended from school five times more than white girls in the United States, but the offenses are usually the same—usually dress code and general behavioral infractions.
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Schools are unfairly pushing black girls out. They suspend them for minor stuff—like “having an attitude” or “talking back.” These so-called violations are often informed by stereotypes and bias. The result? More frequent and harsher punishment for black girls.[/lborder]
The young girls in the video tell their stories of being deemed “aggressive,” “loud,” “angry,” “unladylike,” and “rude”—all descriptors informed by stereotypes of black women and black people. In the PSA, the girls contrast their labels with the way they see themselves, adjectives like “strong,” “smart” and “sensitive.”
In the U.S., black girls are 16 percent of girls enrolled in K-12 schools, but they receive 45 percent of suspensions served out of school given to girls, according to research. That has long-term ramifications because it can lead to indifference about school, lower grades, dropping out, incarceration and distrust of authority and educators.
Nia Evans, the engagement and mobilization associate for NWLC, told Mashable that there are critics out there against the fact that the movement is specifically for black girls.
“We aren’t discouraged,” she said. “Black girls deserve to learn free from stereotypes, bias and policing. And we’ll keep fighting until it happens.”
NWLC has created an online toolkit to help students and parents to examine their school’s policies and determine if they target girls. It’s available in English and Spanish and can help the students learn more about their rights, how to fight for changes in school policy and where they can get help if the policies are indeed targeting.