Image: National Women’s LAw Center/ Youtube
A powerful new video proves that young black girls are smart, capable and powerful — even in the face of unfair school policies.
The video, part of the Let Her Learn campaign from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), seeks to end school "pushout" — or the use of targeted policies to deny young people their right to education.
The new PSA illuminates the racism black girls experience through school discipline practices and administrative bias — and how they’re pushing back.
In the U.S., black girls are suspended from school five times more than white girls. But the so-called "offenses" of the two groups of teens — often related to dress codes and behavioral policies — actually look quite similar.
"Schools are unfairly pushing black girls out," NWLC wrote on the campaign’s page. "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."
In the PSA, young black girls tell the harrowing stories of their peers who have been unfairly targeted by school policies or violence from school staff. Much of the problem, they say, lies in the ways teachers and administrations see their black female students, labelling them "aggressive," "loud," "angry," "unladylike" and "rude."
In grades K-12, black girls are only 16% of the girls enrolled, but they account for 45% of the girls receiving out-of-school suspensions.
The girls in the video advocate for a reframing of how teachers, administrations and society see young black women. At the end of the PSA, they share who they truly are, labeling themselves as "strong," "smart" and "sensitive."
"It’s never been more important to highlight the barriers black girls face in schools and eradicate the discrimination that threatens their success," Nia Evans, engagement and mobilization associate for NWLC, told Mashable. "The Let Her Learn campaign … invites the public to get involved and help turn this reality around. This will be an uphill battle."
Through the campaign, NWLC also released an online toolkit for students who want to examine their own school policies and see if they unfairly target girls of color. The 12-page toolkit — available in both English and Spanish — provides a starting point for students to learn their rights, how they can advocate for changes in school policy, and where to find dedicated help.
According to NWLC, unfair disciplinary actions — like the policies mentioned by the girls in the PSA — often result in lost interest in school, lower grades, increased risk of dropping out, distrust of adults and authority figures, and increased risk of juvenile incarceration. These circumstances, NWLC argues, teach black girls that school is an unwelcoming place.
To solve issues of targeted discipline, the National Women’s Law Center recommends banning all suspensions in early grades. Instead, schools should teach conflict resolution practices, try alternative forms of discipline like restorative justice, and employ counselors over law enforcement officers in schools.
Though reactions to the newly launched campaign have been largely positive, Evans said some people are still threatened — or even enraged — at a movement that focuses solely on the discrimination black girls face in school.
"We aren’t discouraged," Evans said. "Black girls deserve to learn free from stereotypes, bias and policing. And we’ll keep fighting until it happens."
This article was sourced from http://khushboomagazine.com