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Black girls matter, too

A recent report focuses on an overlooked segment of the population: black girls.

“Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected” was released in early February by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia University’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies. It “endeavors to shine a spotlight on the various factors that direct girls of color down dead-end streets while obscuring their vulnerabilities.”

The report observes that “black boys and girls were subject to larger achievement gaps and harsher forms of discipline than their white counterparts.” It harshly assesses punitive disciplinary measures. “Increased levels of law enforcement and security personnel within schools sometimes make girls feel less safe and less likely to attend school,” it states. The report is also critical of how ineffective schools often are in stopping the sexual harassment and bullying of girls.

The study is largely based on interviews with girls directly impacted by such policies. It makes a number of recommendations.

We need to “expand existing opportunities to ensure the inclusion of black girls and other girls of color in policy research, advocacy, and programmatic interventions” and “ensure an equitable approach to funding that supports the needs of women and girls as well as those of men and boys,” it says. And, it states, we must make sure to “develop ways to help girls feel safe without an over-reliance on punitive interventions,” as well as “develop robust protocols that ensure that school personnel enforce all students’ rights to learn in an environment free of sexual harassment and bullying.”

Let’s hope that the report dispels the silence surrounding black girls.

Elizabeth Ann Thompson is a freelance writer in Oakland, Calif. She wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues affiliated with The Progressive magazine.

©2015 Elizabeth Ann Thompson

Tribune News Service