A recent article highlights the atrocities associated with racism against school aged Black females. Black females are not at the bottom of the Raccelerate Phenomenon as are Black males. Schools can avoid the perception of racism against Black females by developing strategies that neutralize the hidden factors that lead to excessive discipline.
According to the article, How Black Girls Are Locked Put of America’s Schools, author Monique Morris surmises that racism against Black females is a microcosms of the American society that we live. Morris believes that the root of this type of oppression reflects the “norms of society.”
Morris is on tract to outline how zero tolerance policies have produced a racism in schools that is unparalleled. For example, from 1973 to 2010 the quantity of secondary Black students exceeded 40% of the student population. Even though Black males are more likely to be suspended from school, the article highlights that Black females are six times more likely to be suspended from school when compared to White females. Specifically, New York City expelled 53 Black females with no suspensions for White females in 2012. Furthermore, Black females represent 16 percent of the females population as well as representing almost 50% of all girls with school-related arrest.
The problem is well stated but only scratched the problem solving surface. The reality is that schools are predominately controlled by the values of Whites. The majority of the teaching staff is White female while the majority administrative staff is White male. Due to the historical nature of the development of schools, it is these values that continue to dominate and continue to fuel racism against Black females.
What are some of the hidden factors that continue to contribute to racism against Black females?
One of the major hidden factors that contribute to racism against Black females is the differences in nonverbal and verbal behavior. For example, Blacks not only debate the idea, they also debate the person while Whites debate the idea rather than the person debating the idea. Blacks will often probe beyond a statement given to them to find out the person’s perspective in order to clarify the meaning and value of a particular behavior or attitude associated with the statement. In the classroom this behavior can led to discipline recommendations for the students due to White teachers feeling that the student has inappropriately offended or attacked them.
Also, Black students contrast White middle-class communication when they speak over others’ voices and repeat the communication until they are responded to or until they have someone’s attention. Spontaneity behavior during a conversation is an acceptable component of Black communication, even though Whites perceive interrupting another speaker in conversation as rude. For Blacks, the speaker and audience are often interchangeable as Blacks listen and will often respond to a speaker. While Black communities accept the approach that their children use by interrupting others or speaking out of turn, it is considered an unacceptable school practice, and teachers view this behavior as disruptive and inappropriate which often leads to a disciplinary consequence for the Black female students. Black students understand the classroom power structure and use these verbal techniques to discover a teacher’s strengths and weaknesses in order to evaluate a teacher’s racial attitudes and locate teachers’ breaking points.
In an effort to protect themselves and maintain the classroom power structure, many White teachers will respond to Black female students with sarcasm. Sarcasm can damage teacher-student relationships. Children believe sarcastic messages are negative. While teachers may use sarcasm and ridicule as a corrective mechanism, the long-term consequence of diminished esteem in the eyes of Black female students may make the immediate gains in terms of behavioral correction not worth using sarcasm.
Teachers will have a greater impact on Black female students by using praise. Praise can be used to engage students in the learning process. Verbal encouragement by teachers increases student participation and desired behavior. Praise is an effective reinforcement that provides encouragement to students and is a reinforcement for behavior performance improvement. Praise is an effective reinforcement that helps to build self-esteem in students such as Black females.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President