A recent study surveyed 325 adults from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds and education levels and confirmed the knowledge most black girls already have about their bodies.
Apparently, most adults in the United States think African-American girls are "less innocent, less in need of protection and nurturing, and seem older than similarly aged white girls, which could lead to stiffer punishments in school.”
This perception stems from another belief that black girls know more about adult topics than white girls. Such opinions are strongest for girls aged 5-9 and 10-14, after which they continue to a lesser degree.
Rebecca Epstein, lead author of the report and executive director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., believes the study gives important hints on why black girls get tougher punishments.
“This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of black girls may help explain why black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls, across our schools and in our juvenile justice system,” she said.
The results of her research study coincide with the 2014 Department of Education data that showed schools around the country suspended black girls at higher rates than girls of any other race or most boys. The reasoning behind the suspensions were not made clear.
“These findings show that pervasive stereotypes of black women as hyper-sexualized and combative are reaching into our schools and playgrounds and helping rob black girls of the protections other children enjoy,” added study co-author Jamilia Blake, a Texas A&M University professor.
African-American boys are also seen more dangerous and more of a threat than white boys. A 2014 study by the American Psychological Association concluded, “black boys as young as 10 are more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime.”
The study gives an insight into the institutionalized racism in our society, where members of black community can be apprehended for crossing the street without identification.
Police brutality is not an isolated phenomenon, but exists because Americans perceive black bodies as threats that need to be eliminated. Unless that changes, don't expect the justice system to not fail black people.