Black Girls and Zero Tolerance: A Call to Action

Barbara Perez headshot

Guest Contributor: Barbara Perez, President and CEO of the YWCA Greater Cincinnati

In Cincinnati, African-American girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school than white boys and nearly nine times more likely to be suspended than other girls. Nationally, black girls are suspended from school more than any other group of girls and at a much higher rate than white, Asian and Latino boys.

This is one of the consequences of “zero-tolerance” policies which use suspension, expulsion and even arrests in response to a range of school-based incidents. While originally enacted to address cases of violent behavior and drug use, the Department of Education recently reported that 95 percent of out-of-school suspensions are now passed out for nonviolent, minor disruptions such as tardiness or disrespect.

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UC Social Justice is the blog for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice of University of Cincinnati College of Law.  As part of the Center, our blog is about bridging divides–between theory and practice, our own university and greater Cincinnati, as well as building relationships across the nation and the globe.

This is the place were we will discuss and analyze the law and issues relating to social justice.  It’s also where we hope to connect to our growing community of partners and friends.

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Back to School with #Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter as a vehicle for addressing racial disparities in school discipline

With a new school year approaching, I found myself thinking about #BlackLivesMatter (BLM).

Not just because of the violent summer of 2016, marked by more Black men dead at the hands of police and snipers targeting white police officers.

Or, because I worry about how my students process these terrible events, particularly against the backdrop of a political campaign season that has unleashed some of the most overtly hateful and vituperative racialized and sexist rhetoric I have ever seen.

BLM has elevated and placed into context the police shootings.   It has the potential to do even more.  As an “ideological and political intervention,” BLM is about more than just protesting:  its focus is on securing material change for African Americans.  That’s why, as we go back to school, I see BLM as a promising vehicle for challenging deep seated inequality contributing to Black dis-ease in society:  disparities public education.

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