Read Time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds
Black girls are a movement. The way our hair defies gravity and our side-eyes make you reconsider wtf you just said. Black girls are not a monolith. We vary in interests, ethnicity, body type, sexual preference, etc. To protect us is to ultimately understand that our multifaceted nature and commitment to being recognized in our wholeness is perceived as a threat to most. Most importantly, to truly protect us, you must check your bias at the door.
What do we mean when we say, “Protect Black Girls.”? Is it just another popular quote to print on t-shirts and coat onto murals? Or is it a call to action for people to learn HOW to protect the parts of Black girls that the world secretly envies the most? As a Black woman, it is my experience that many people do not know how to protect Black people, much less Black girls.
Derogatory slurs and assaults aren't the only forms of attack against Black girls. The more success Black girls experience, the more insidious and tactical the attacks become. Evidenced by research showing:
- Black girls are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system population (Mother Jones)
- Black girls are subject to harsher disciplinary interventions because they are perceived to be unruly, loud and unmanageable. (Black Girls Matter Report)
- Data from the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education shows that within minority groups, dark skinned girls are disciplined more harshly than light-skinned ones (New York Times)
Despite being unprotected and overpoliced, Black girls grow into Black women who challenge stereotypes and trailblaze their respective industries, earning titles like “The First Black Woman to...”. However, Black girls cannot forge the path ahead alone. We need collective support.
Protect Black Girls. Though the simplicity of the sentence may convince you that this call to action is an easy task, let me remind you, it is not. The last thing Black girls need to be doing is putting their desire for more protection into the hands of performative allies. If you wish to defend Black girls in the right way, you must check your bias at the door.
Start With Yourself: Assess your Bias
A friend of mine once told me, “No one is exempt from racial conditioning.” We all have our biases, and the sooner we recognize them, the sooner we can move forward with making the world a better place. To protect Black girls, we must first examine our anti-Blackness and subconscious biases. This allows us to come face to face with our social and racial conditioning. We can actively work towards debunking our bias by asking ourselves reflective questions like:
- What are common stereotypes about Black girls?
- Do I believe in said stereotypes?
- Do I perpetuate said stereotypes?
- What is my motivation for wanting to protect Black girls?
It is so important that we understand and own our biases so that we can recognize how to appropriately defend Black girls against the war being waged on their confidence, peace, and position in the world.
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