Girls Speak Out Against Racism in U.S. Schools — 2017
— Shante Antrom-Gowans (@Crosswaymgmt) November 1, 2016
Girls Speak Out Against Racism in U.S. Schools — 2017 — I was browsing the internet when I came across this new video campaign on the website Attn:, which features young black girls exposing a shocking truth about the U.S. school system and institutional racism.
The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) posted a viral Facebook video on Thursday about the racism black girls face in school from teachers and administrators, along with launching the hashtag #LetHerLearn.
“Schools are unfairly pushing girls out. They suspend girls for minor stuff—like going against strict dress codes or ‘talking back,'” wrote NWLC on its site in regards to the campaign. “In general, schools suspend Black, Latina and American Indian/Alaskan Native girls at higher rates than white girls.”
— Elizabeth Alabi (@ElizaAlabi) January 7, 2017
— Tressie Mc (@tressiemcphd) January 7, 2017
— EdRightsNetwork (@EduRightsNow) January 6, 2017
— Sejal Singh (@Sej_Singh) December 8, 2016
Black girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school than white girls, although they don’t commit more “serious offenses,” according to the NWLC’s video.
Words like “aggressive” and “unladylike” are written on the girls as they each stand in front of the camera to explain that those are just some of the stereotypical adjectives that are often times used to describe black female students.
One girl says she was sent home from school because of the appearance of her hair.
This example was likely a reminder of the 2013 incident at Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida, which made headlines because the school threatened to expel Vanessa Van Dyke, who was 12 years old at the time, for wearing her hair in a natural style.
“It says that I’m unique,” VanDyke told a local Orlando Station in 2013. “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
School officials called her afro a distraction and said it violated the school’s dress code concerning hair care. The school later changed its mind after the story received media attention, and Van Dyke returned to school.
In 2014, Motoko Rich wrote, U.S. Education—Racist to the Core. In the article, Rich said Black students are suspended and expelled at three times the rate of white students. A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not offer any Algebra II courses, while a third of those schools do not have any chemistry classes. Black students are more than four times as likely as white students — and Latino students are twice as likely — to attend schools where one out of every five teachers does not meet all state teaching requirements.
Another girl in the video references being “thrown to the floor” while sitting at a school desk.
In October 2015, a video of Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Fields grabbing, throwing and then dragging a black female student from her school desk to the floor at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina went viral.
“If she had not disrupted the school and disrupted that class, we would not be standing here today. So it started with her and it ended with my officer. What I’m going to deal with is what my deputy did,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told CNN in 2015. Fields was suspended and then fired because of the incident.