By now you’ve seen or at least heard about the video with the South Carolina police officer pulling a black female student from her desk and throwing her across the room. A federal civil rights investigation has been opened and the officer’s past conduct is being reviewed.
While we’ve seen more and more evidence of young black men – unarmed – suffering abuse at the hands of police, very often for doing nothing but mouthing off or just, well, being black and at the wrong place at the wrong time.
But what about black girls? There was a report released last year by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies called Black Girls Matter. It is based on a new review of national data and personal interviews with young women in Boston and New York. The study cites examples of excessive disciplinary actions against young black girls, including the controversial 2014 case of a 12-year-old in Georgia who faced expulsion and criminal charges for writing the word “hi” on a locker room wall. A white female classmate who was also involved faced a much less severe punishment.
From the forward:
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education cited in the report, nationally black girls were suspended six times more than white girls, while black boys were suspended three times as often as white boys.
Data specific to New York and Boston demonstrates that the relative risk for disciplinary action is higher for Black girls when compared to white girls than it is for Black boys when compared to white boys.
● In New York, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 10 times more than those involving their white counterparts and the number of cases involving black boys was six times the number of those involving white boys, despite there being only twice as many black students as white students.
● In Boston, the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls was more than 11 times more than those involving their white counterparts while the number of cases involving black boys was approximately eight times those involving white boys, despite there being less than three times as many black students as white students.
● Rates of expulsion were even more strikingly disproportionate between black and white students, especially among girls.
After this week’s incident in South Carolina, one wonders whether there will be a volume two of the report.