Black Girls Matter: New Report Highlights the Exclusion and Criminalisation of Young Women and Girls of Colour in Schools
A new report, issued by the African-American Policy Forum and the Columbia Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, indicates that young women of colour in the US are subject to dramatically disproportionate rates of discipline in schools, and surveillance and incarceration by the criminal justice system. The report, authored by Kimberlé Crenshaw (with Pricilla Ocen and Jyoti Nanda), stems from what the authors have identified as “a critical dialogue about the various ways that women and girls of color are channeled onto pathways that lead to underachievement and criminalization”. It uses both statistical analyses and interviews with young women in Boston and New York City to identify the structural co-ordination of ‘push-out policies’.
One of the many important interventions that this report makes is the connection of punitive measures in schools to the criminalisation of the young girls, foreclosing any number of prospective future paths for them.
Professors Kimberlé Crenshaw and Luke Harris, who co-direct the African American Policy Forum, have astutely criticised President Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ (MBK) initiative, a political response to the killing of Trayvon Martin, as having sharpened public focus on violence against black males, entrenching a male-gendered experience of racial violence and further obscuring systemic violence against black women and women of colour. A critical open letter was written to President Obama on MBK from over 1,000 women of colour, and a separate one was penned by 200 black men.
This new report is an important document, not only for revealing the systemic exclusion and criminalisation of young women and girls of colour, but for sharpening thought leadership on contemporary forms of racism in the US.
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Follow the Columbia Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies on Twitter: @IntersectCtr