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Black Girls Suspended

Why Are So Many Black Girls Suspended from School?
By Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu


  We have heard that 16 percent of Black males are suspended from school. Did you know that 12 percent of Black females are suspended and 8 percent are expelled Are Black females being overlooked? We know Black males are on life support, but Black females are in critical condition.

Does America hate Black females? Do most schools dislike Black females? Are schools and teachers expecting Black females to act like White females? Do White teachers expect Black girls to act like their daughters? Do some schools and teachers think Black girls are too loud? Do they believe they have too much “attitude?”

What are some of the prevalent reasons schools and teachers give for suspending Black girls? Many Black girls are suspended because they wear their hair natural. A Black girl in Orlando, Florida was threatened with expulsion because she was bullied about her natural hairstyle, the school thought it best that she straighten her hair and she refused to do so. 2 In another instance, a Black girl was suspended because she juxtaposed Frederick Douglass’ views of education during slavery with present-day views of education. Are these understandable policies for suspending Black girls?

Are schools fair to Black girls? Do some schools have double standards? Why do White girls get a warning for a school uniform infraction and Black girls get suspended? The same applies to using a mobile device. Many Black girls are suspended because they rolled their eyes at the teacher, put their hand on their hip and rotated their neck. Some Black girls are suspended because they were chewing gum and said, “Whatever.” For White girls to be suspended it requires bloodshed or possession of a weapon.

Are some White female teachers afraid of Black girls? Do some schools use suspension of Black girls the way they use special education for Black boys? Is suspension a way to remove unwanted students from the classroom? How can
Black girls excel academically in environments where they are not liked, respected, culturally understood, and appreciated? In most schools, 20 percent of the teachers make 80 percent of suspension referrals. 3 Is the problem with Black girls or with this 20 percent?

Why are suspension policies critical to a school’s culture? What happens within that culture when a small percentage of teachers implements the greatest number of suspension referrals—and is successful at doing so? What does this say about the school’s leadership? And what happens to Black girls when they experience this policy and threat (since they see their peers getting suspended) as they go through school? What can schools and teachers do to move away from suspension and toward education?

These questions and more are addressed in my new book, Educating Black Girls. Our girls can no longer be overlooked. They need our help now!

 

Other interesting articles: Black Girls Hair, Black Girls Reading, Black Girls Overlooked, What Black Parents Must Do, In Order To Save Black Boys, Health, Changing School Culture,

 

Notes

1. Nia-Malika Henderson, “Study: Black Girls Suspended at Higher Rates than Most Boys,” Washington Post, March 21, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/03/21/study-black-girls-suspended-at-higher-rates-than-most-boys/; see also Civil Rights Data Collection: School Discipline Data Snapshot. Issue Brief No. 1. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Division, March 2014. CRDC School Discipline Data Snapshot.pdf
2. Ruth Manuel-Logan, “Girl Who Faced Expulsion Over Natural Hair Gets to Stay at Private School,” News One, 11/27/2013. http://newsone.com/2792588/vanessa-vandyke-natural-hair/; see also Maureen Costello, “Cut Your Chances of Suspension: Don’t be Black,” Teaching Tolerance, September 15, 2010. http://www.tolerance.org/blog/cut-your-chances-suspension-don-t-be-black; Daniel Losen and Russell Skiba, “Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis,” Montgomery, AL: Southern Poverty Law Center, September 2010. http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/suspended-education
3. Crystal Lewis, “Pushed Out of School, Black Girls Lose Huge Ground,” WE News, March 24, 2010. http://womensenews.org/story/incarceration/140322/pushed-out-school-black-girls-lose-huge-ground#.U0rmYpUU_IU; see also Jenny Egan, “One out of Every Ten Black Girls Suspended from School,” Washington, DC: National Women’s Law Center, March 8, 2012. http://www.nwlc.org/our-blog/one-out-every-ten-black-girls-suspended-school

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu is the author of more than 30 books including the national best sellers Raising Black Boys and Understanding Black Male Learning Styles. He has been a guest speaker at many universities and has been a consultant at most urban school districts. His work has been featured in Ebony and Essence magazine, and he has been a guest on BET and Oprah.