Kimberlé Crenshaw, Black Girls and the School-To-Prison Pipeline | MAKERS Moment

Kimberlé Crenshaw, Black Girls and the School-To-Prison Pipeline | MAKERS Moment

Video Transcript

KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW: For some time there's been a conversation about the school-to-prison pipeline as a significant driver of carceral consequences for largely men and boys of color, Black men in particular, and the argument more or less goes like this. Because we've turned our public schools into spaces for discipline, control, and surveillance, many of the policies that impact students pushed them out of schools and push them usually into the juvenile justice system, and that becomes a pathway to negative consequences throughout life.

And so there are a lot of resources that foundations put to the task of rethinking discipline in schools, rethinking zero tolerance environments, even rethinking how to recruit teachers and creating role models all with the idea that mass incarceration is expensive, it wastes lives, it waste money, so let's figure out how to do something about it. And much of that is right. What's not right about it is assuming that it's just about boys.

The ways that girls are pushed out of school and disciplined and punished often for being Black fell outside of the way the issue was even framed. So research follows the initial misframing, so then when it comes time to build up policies and programs, there isn't much information or awareness that Black girls are facing things that sometimes are the same and sometimes are different.

So we decided to try to do something about it. We started looking at research. We found out in some places Black girls were 11 times more likely to be suspended than white girls. Nationally, it was like six times more likely.

Now that was important for two reasons. Black girls were more likely to experience punishment than white girls, but the disparity between the punishment that Black and white girls had was greater than the disparity than the punishment between Black boys and white boys, yet no one was talking about that. No one had a sense that you know what, our girls aren't doing fine. There are things that are happening to them.

Parents, other community members, teachers, principals, they didn't know this information. So Black Girls Matter was an attempt to bring this information forward to actually tell the story that's hidden between the cracks of a framework of racial justice that just deals with boys and a framework of gender justice that just deals largely with white middle class girls.