“why do all you black girls act like this?” my friends and i stared at our substitute teacher with looks of confusion on our faces. “you know…every school i go to y’all are all the same. mean and loud.”
this was my experience as a high school student in a majority white accelerated academic program. my friends and i were throwing shade and making jokes at each other’s expense, all from a place of love of course. this was the way we related to one another, anything else would have been deemed inauthentic; however, for our white teacher, our behavior was problematic and pathological.
black women being labeled as loud and angry is embodied in moments like the one i experienced as a teenager. for some, this may have been harmless, but for us it was a person with power and privilege misunderstanding and condemning our behavior — he quickly used a negative stereotype to explain actions that he didn’t understand. i had forgotten about this experience until reading “pushed out of school, black girls lose huge ground,” an article published yesterday by WeNews.
the article cites research by monique morris that “black girls are getting into trouble at school just for being who they have to be.” monique’s research discovered that the majority of black girls who have been suspended were kicked out of school for being “loud” and engaging in behaviors that are prompted by a need to defend themselves or that have cultural roots. WeNews also cites a 2007 study by edward morris that black girls were most likely to be punished by schools for being more “unlady-like” than white girls and were seen by teachers as “loud, defiant and precocious.”
while much attention has been given to black males and the barriers to their safety, achievement and well-being, we must not forget that black women are also suffering at the hands of racist and sexist systems. we too need interventions that speak to our poor educational outcomes and address the insidious practices that work to condemn our identities.