Oct 27 2015

Black Girl Down… and Up

I should express requisite shock but I haven’t the energy to perform. Another viral video shows a Black girl thrown across her classroom by a white cop who outweighs her by 150 pounds (at least).

I’m not shocked. Not in the least. I don’t wear this admission like a badge of honor. I’m not desensitized or blase. I just know that treating Black children carelessly and roughly is the norm. We all know this even those who want to pretend they don’t.

There are cops in schools. Everyone also knows this. The proponents of this policy say that it’s to ‘keep students safe.’ These words pour out without irony even as research suggests that having police in schools usually escalates minor discipline issues.

Last year, in Chicago, there were over 3000 youth arrests inside our public schools. The vast majority of these (77%) were Black students. Girls made up 32% of the school-based arrests. How many Black children were thrown across their classrooms with no video evidence?


The myth of officer friendly will not and cannot die. It doesn’t matter how many videos are produced showing Black children being brutalized. Too many people need and want cops to do their dirty work. The cop in that video is a stand-in for a society that hates Black children. Break the Black girl before she grows. Beat her down and then make sure she knows that anyone who comes to her defense will be punished too. Neutralize the threat. The message is clear as day: ‘You are insignificant, a nothing and we can crush you at will.’

The sad spectacle of impotent and complicit adults online and offline does nothing to inspire confidence in the young. Black children learn early that no one will save them from brutalization by the state and its agents. In fact, most adults like the teacher in the viral video will invite state brutalization in the name of ‘safety.’ At best safety as a concept is rendered a meaningless farce. At worst, safety becomes an additional means or tool of subjugation and oppression.

While Rome burns and you with it, you’ll hear some adults offer prescriptions for the problem that will make you despair. More ‘training’ for school resource officers, some will confidently assert. More cameras in schools, others will counter. Meanwhile, you and your friends will wonder who will simply remove the cops from your schools. Wouldn’t that be the first place to start, you’ll ask. You’ll likely be greeted with the sounds of crickets because so many adults have ceilings on their brains. The result of decades of oppression that has left them without imagination or even good sense.

So you’ll band together with your friends and organize to change the depressing reality. I know so many Black girls leading campaigns to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee

It’s you who give me hope. Black girl, I’ve seen you and continue to see you standing up in defense of your life and that of your sisters. #NiyaKenny, we speak your name.

A Long  Walk Home March 4 Rekia, photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (10/17/15)

A Long Walk Home March 4 Rekia, photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (10/17/15)

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (8/14/15)

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (8/14/15)

You do the same for your brothers even as too many of them refuse to stand up for you. I’ve shed tears with you about this as you’ve continued to show up time and again in defense of their lives.

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (1/15/15)

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (1/15/15)

I’m blessed to witness your resistance. Perhaps it’s why I don’t despair for the future. How can I when I am privy to so much #BlackGirlMagic? There are few viral videos of your beautiful resistance and too many of your degradation. That isn’t your doing, it is ours and we have to do so much better by you.

  • By Elle, October 28, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

    Thank you for this profoundly honest and concise piece. It voices the Truth that many would like to comfortably ignore. This child was no more guilty of any crime than Sandra Bland was. As a People WE simply must Educate & Empower Our Children with Knowledge.

    We must create systems of TRUE EDUCATION for them. This prison-for-profit system will NEVER…I said NEVER do anything but feign educating Our children as they prepare them for incarceration and/or the grave.

    Please resolve to not spend ONE DOLLAR during this so called “holy” day season to show them WE MATTER!

    What Every Black Driver MUST Know on Facebook


  • By Lynette Wright, October 31, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

    The big picture is…It is hard for me to believe, her teacher had no idea this student had just experienced the lose of her primary care givers. This student may have recently become a ward of the state; and, had no other alternative but to attend a public high school to continue her education. The posture of the teacher to simply look on while the student was being man handled, reveals he may have been a substitute teacher not at all familiar with the students in that classroom. A formula for disaster. Most of the time, regular teachers will leave heads-up-instructions for substitutes identifying a concern that may occur while the regular teacher is out. However, that should not merit being removed from her classroom with commando force. It upsets me that school districts find ways to continually remove teachers that have vested interest in their own communities. The system of racism/white supremacy has been rearing it’s ugly head, looming large on school boards, teaching racist curriculum designed to set students up for failure. The teachers know this and the students certainly know this. Student learn more from YouTube and Home Schooling in the black community is becoming more and more prevalent. Parents have become exhausted fighting racism/white supremacy at School Board Levels. Black Parents have turned to educating their own. This child, like many other children is being profiled for the prison pipeline. To add insult to injury, black males were present looking on without word or intervention, allowing white officer (Massa) to assault a black female adolescent in a learning environment unobtrusively designed to educate her. BLACK PEOPLE WAKE UP!

Other Links to this Post

  1. Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet — October 27, 2015 @ 4:10 pm