When Rutgers—University Newark researcher Jamelia Harris set out to study an educational system that disproportionately punishes and criminalizes Black girls, she relied on the girls themselves to help find answers. “Adults make the mistake of thinking we know better than students how to remedy race and gender inequity in our school system. But it’s so important that we center the wisdom and expertise of young people, particularly those most marginalized,” says Harris. “We have to ask them about their experiences, within and beyond the school system, about what they think should be done. They are the experts.’’
Harris cites copious research on racist and sexist stereotypes that can lead educators to penalize Black girls for being perceived as loud, unfeminine, adult-like, and defiant. According to the U.S. Department for Education and Civil Rights, Black girls are punished at a rate four times higher than non-Black girls and non-Black boys, often for the same infractions. She mentions the many social media videos that have gone viral in the past five years, showing Black girls being physically abused and violated by their teachers, administrators, security guards and police, including a six-year-old Florida girl who was arrested, handcuffed and charged with battery for throwing a temper tantrum in school. To read the full story.