The African American Policy Forum is excited to release our fourth chapter of The Facts to Know About the Status of Black Women as We Enter the Biden Years. This week, we spotlight the status of educational access and opportunity for Black women and girls.
Education has long been a central pillar of the American Dream – a mythical national narrative promising social mobility, improved life chances, and community uplift. Yet for Black women and girls, the schools and institutions of learning that should be safe and supportive are often sites of discrimination, marginalization, and draconian discipline.
The risks that Black girls confront in school rarely receive the attention of researchers, advocates, policy makers, or funders. Consequently, the conversations about how these issues affect the lives of Black girls as they progress through school and into college are few and far between.
Our research team has gathered data produced by a range of organizations, including the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, Pew Research, Demos, the National Center for Education Statistics, and our very own Black Girls Matter report. These various sources highlight the experiences of Black women and girls in school and in academia.
As demonstrated in the below infographics, Black girls are 7 times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts, and 4 times more likely to be arrested at school. This over-policing of Black girls for petty infringements contributes to the general hostility of school environments. Recent research has shown that racial and gender bias results in high-achieving Black girls not taking advanced courses in school even when they attain identical test scores to their white peers; for Black girls, it is not enough to simply study hard, get good grades, and be well-behaved. Still, much of the existing research and literature excludes Black girls from the analysis, or is not disaggregated in a way that would illuminate the issues they face. Such an intersectional failure leads many stakeholders to infer that Black girls are not at-risk.
Despite these many obstacles to their educational success, and the real threat of pushout, Black women across the country go on to complete undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Yet the persistent strain of student loans serves to undercut them: In the first 12 years after graduating, white men and white women pay off 44% and 28% of their student loans, respectively, while Black women see their balances increase by 13%. As just one consequence of all these intersectional policy failures and latent discrimination, only 2% of all full-time professors in the country are Black women.
We must encourage educational leaders and the new administration to rethink the importance of supporting Black women and girls and to hold in tension their particular vulnerabilities alongside their successes. The benefits of this inclusion would reverberate throughout the educational system, and into every aspect of our society.
1. Smithsonian – Heritage & History Month Events: https://www.si.edu/events/heritagemonth
2. ASALH Invites You to Attend the 2021 Virtual Black History Month Festival. Several events are free and open to the public on ASALH TV, the association’s premier YouTube channel: https://asalh.org/festival/
3. Begin Your Family History Journey – National Museum of African American History & Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/events/upcoming
4. Google Art & Culture Gallery: https://artsandculture.google.com/project/black-history-and-culture
5. Oakland Museum California – Examine Black Power in California: https://gesso.fm/omca/collections/Exhibition/black-power
6. African American Museum in Philadelphia - collection of black-and-white photographs of local youth activists who participated in the Civil Rights Movement: https://onlineexhibits.aampmuseum.org/through-his-eyes/#/
7. American Writers Museum in Chicago – Frederick Douglass: Agitator”: https://americanwritersmuseum.org/exhibits/previous-exhibits,virtual-exhibits/roberta-rubin-writers-room-frederick-douglass-agitator/
8. National Afro American Museum and Cultural Center near Dayton, Ohio, is offering curator-led video tours of two of its current exhibitions:
- The Queens of the Heartland looks at 30 influential black women in Ohio history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uHR0IrUgto&feature=youtu.be
- The Art of Soul featuring works of 20 contemporary artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypZxHf108so&feature=youtu.be
- Casa Afro an art gallery in Puerto Rico which features contemporary pieces of art that tell the story of the many different African influences around the island: https://casaafro.org/en/gallery/
9. National Archives in D.C Events: https://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2021/nre21-27
10. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York – Event on Behind the Design – Celebrating Willi Smith Day: https://www.si.edu/events/heritagemonth?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D150692576
11. New York Museum of Food & Drink – Events on the African diaspora on tap, including “Growing Rice: A Migration Story from Seed to Plant” & “Coastal Roots: Tracing the History of Ancestral Farming and Cooking in Georgia”: https://www.mofad.org/events?view=calendar&month=02-2021
12. California African American Museum – “In Conversation: Quincy Troupe and Erin Aubry Kaplan on Miles Davis,” a deep dive discussion on the famed jazz trumpeter. https://caamuseum.org/programs/talks-and-workshops/in-conversation-quincy-troupe-and-erin-aubry-kaplan-on-miles-davis
13. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – will be presenting a slate of events, from an interactive town hall discussion about systemic redlining on February 18 to a genealogy 101 lesson with experts on February 22: https://www.bcri.org/black-history-month/?doing_wp_cron=1612541039.6047570705413818359375
14. Field Museum in Chicago – presents a rare examination of its famed “Africa” exhibition with a panel featuring curators and designers who launched it in 1993: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/our-events/africa-view-field
15. Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon: Black History Month Edition – vents will be focusing on boosting recognition for black American artists and STEM professionals alike: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wikipedia-edit-a-thon-black-history-month-edition-tickets-136707675337
16. Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York – annual “Brooklyn Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.,” an hour-long concert featuring songs, poems and spoken-word tributes dedicated to the much-lauded Civil Rights activist and Baptist minister available through February 28: https://www.bam.org/mlktribute
17. Chicago Children’s Choir performing with Sing Harlem! and Grammy-winning musician PJ Morton, Grammy-winning artists Lisa Fischer and musical ensemble Ranky Tanky on Feb. 25: https://ccchoir.org/black-history-month-2021/
18. Village Preservation in New York will be hosting a different multimedia event on February 23 when tour guides Derrick Edwards and Eric Chase embark on “Black Bohemia: a Virtual Village Walking Tour”, which will take viewers through the city’s popular Village neighborhood by following in the footsteps of famous black artists who called the area home, including writers Alex Haley and Audre Lorde, playwright Lorraine Hansberry and novelist James Baldwin: https://www.villagepreservation.org/event/black-bohemia-village-walking-tour/
19. California State University, Northridge plans to host multiple virtual Black History Month events to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of the Black community: https://csunshinetoday.csun.edu/university-news/csun-celebrates-black-history-month-with-virtual-events/
20. Still – a spoken word performance, written and performed by Javon Johnson, on his own experience of being Black in America: https://playhouselive.org/programs/still
21. In Deborah Roberts’ Art, an Interrogation of What Society Imposes on Black Children - https://www.vogue.com/article/deborah-roberts-artist#intcid=_mab-simulations-oo-bottom-recirc-2_de4df270-a16a-435b-9912-ddf6d687ff83_text2vec1
22. Black Art is Black Money, by Blacktag - https://www.blacktag.com/