Studies show that black girls face discrimination as early as kindergarten
Unfortunately, it’s undebatable that racial and gender bias is still alive today. Even though we’re combating the way people think about and act on racial bias, more information has been unearthed about how deep-rooted these issues are. In fact, a recent study shows that black girls face discrimination as early as age 5.
This new study from Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality found that black girls are perceived as “less innocent” than their white female classmates. The word innocent here represents a child’s “lack of worldliness and need for protection.”
The study reveals that black girls are also seen as more mature than white girls.
According to The New York Times, researchers surveyed 325 adults (74 percent of whom were white) regarding the maturity of white and black girls. Participants were asked how often black or white females seem older than their age, how much they need to be comforted and supported, and how much they know about adult topics and sex.
The results of the survey told researchers that the majority of people thought black girls aged 5 through 14 need less nurturing, less protection, and are more independent and knowledgable about sex. The authors of the study wrote,
"Our findings reveal a potential contributing factor to the disproportionate rates of punitive treatment in the education and juvenile justice systems for Black girls."
Another study, published in Sage Journals, found that black girls are often punished more in school even though they often perform better than their white and Latino classmates. Teachers of all races, black included, found that when their black female students called out, they were seen as being “unladylike” rather than actively engaged in the learning process.
The Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality authors state, “In light of proven disparities in school discipline, we suggest that the perception of Black girls as less innocent may contribute to harsher punishment by educators and school resource officers.”
Black girls are viewed as older and less innocent because of long-standing black female stereotypes that date back to slavery.
This societal issue is called “adultification.” These stereotypes surrounding adult black women are so ingrained in society that most people don’t even realize they view the world through them. The stereotypes trickle down to young black girls, therefore affecting their treatment in the education system and in society as a whole.
Rebecca Epstein, lead author of the study and executive director of Georgetown University Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, told The New York Times that this information is shocking and should encourage black girls to raise their voice regarding this issue.
Hopefully by revealing this information to the public, people will start to rethink the way they treat young black women. Because the consequences last well into adulthood.