The New York Times investigated the uneven treatment Black girls experience when being disciplined in school. Their findings are in line with what any of us would assume considering the current racial climate.
According to data pulled from the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education, from 2011 to 2012, Black girls attending both public elementary and secondary schools across the nation, were put on suspension more than any other race. Black girls had a rate of 12 percent, while their white counterparts were much lower at just 2 percent.
The Times also interviewed 12-year-old Mikia Hutchings who was suspended along with her white friend for vandalism. The family of both girls were ordered to pay a fine of $100, but while the other girl avoided further punishment once her restitution was settled, Mikia ended up amassing a whole new set of issues.
Her grandmother was unable to pay the fine,
which led to Mikia facing a disciplinary hearing and being served with papers from the local Sherriff’s office. The document, which was served in person by an officer, documented Mikia’s rap sheet. She was being accused of a “trespassing misdemeanor”. She also was potentially facing felony charges. In order to have the charges dismissed she accepted the criminal trespassing charges and spent her summer on probation. She also had to compete 16 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to a student whose sneakers were destroyed as a result of her actions. But remarkably her friend who is white didn’t have to face any additional punishment after her parents paid restitution.
This is just one of many examples of how black girls are unfairly punished, and the problem goes even deeper. Researchers at Villanova University discovered that skin hue is a big indicator when it comes to the disparity in the treatment of black girls in schools. Girls with darker skin are more likely to be suspended at a higher rate than light skinned girls. Lance Hannon, a sociology professor at Villanova explained his findings, ‘When a darker-skinned African-American female acts up, there’s a certain concern about their boyish aggressiveness – that they don’t know their place as a female, as a woman”.
There seems to be a general sentiment that dark-skinned girls are naturally aggressive and uncouth and need extra measures to tone them down. Jamilia Blake, an associate professor of educational psychology at Texas A&M, summed it up by saying, “Black girls are often seen as unsophisticated, hypersexualized and defiant”.
This is definitely an issue that deserved more attention – in the wake of the current racial strife gripping the nation. Black teens are also getting penalized for their skin color and are being taught that the darker their skin the less valuable they are. It is a detrimental exercise in mental abuse and hopefully measures will be taken to reduce its occurrence.