A new study confirms to the rest of America what Black folk already know: Black girls are viewed as less innocent than White girls. American society does the same thing to little Black boys, too. Black folk have been trying to tell our White counterparts this for years.
The study by The Georgetown Law Center for Poverty and Inequality, "Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” confirms that society views Black girls as older than White girls of the same age. This leads to Black girls receiving less nurturing, attention and support than White girls of the same age. Because American society views Black girls as older, they receive harsher punishments for the same, typical childish behavior as their White counterparts--more expulsions and harsher disciplinary actions.
This study follows a similar report by the American Psychological Association that found that Black boys are viewed as older than White boys of the same age. Black boys are also more likely to be suspected of deviance and crimes than White boys of the same age.
In 2014, The Department of Education said that Black girls are suspended from school at higher rates than than other girls and even boys. Though, the data couldn't explain why such disparities exist. But we know why. Historically, Black women have not only been hyper-sexualized, but viewed as loud and aggressive--the Angry Black Woman" stereotype and video vixens.
These stereotypes persisted for as long as we have been in the US under duress. The lead author of the "Black girl" study, Rebecca Epstein said, “One reason this might be occurring is because black girls are being held to the same stereotypes we have of black women. Epstein talked to a little girl who told her that her teacher called her "an angry black woman." Are you serious?! Who says that to a little girl? But this is how little Black girls are treated in the U.S.
While it may not be deliberate, we press these stereotypes upon our little girls which negatively affects their mental and emotional development. The Georgetown Law Center for Poverty and Inequality have vowed to lead the way by "creating an initiative on gender justice and opportunity." We know that stereotypes are part of the reason black girls are viewed as less innocent. But how do we counter centuries of being viewed negatively?