In another part of my life, I help run a newsletter of social justice events. There’s a joint Jewish-Muslim event coming, and yesterday I received an email that read, in part, “The Palo Alto Police Department recommends not putting it on social media, so we are refraining from that.” My first thought was, “Let’s advertise it! Bring on the white supremacists! Let them show their faces.” I’m not going to do that, but a substantial part of me wants to.
Overall, the study concluded that when adults compared white girls and black girls they viewed black girls as needing less nurturing, less support and less comfort.
“Ultimately, adultification is a form of dehumanization, robbing black children of the very essence of what makes childhood distinct from all other developmental periods: innocence,” the authors wrote. “Adultification contributes to a false narrative that black youths’ transgressions are intentional and malicious, instead of the result of immature decision-making—a key characteristic of childhood.”
The authors wrote that these perceptions may be contributing to discrepancies in school discipline and juvenile justice charges among black girls. The study noted that black girls are five times more likely than white girls to be suspended from school and 20 percent more likely to be charged with a crime.
This sets off alarm bells for us for many reasons, particularly through our current lens of SEL. If black girls aren’t given the space that all children need to practice learning about and handling emotions–or are given that space grudgingly, without the benefit of being seen as children in need of support–we as a society are setting them up for consequences both earlier and later in life.