Muslim Student Athlete Disqualified From Race for Wearing Hijab

Noor Alexandria Abukaram has played three high school sports since she began wearing a hijab in 2016. But she said that it was not until last weekend — after her seventh cross-country race of the season — that she learned she wasn’t allowed to run in her head scarf without special permission.

The decision by the Ohio High School Athletic Association official to disqualify Ms. Abukaram, 16, last Saturday was met with outrage on Thursday, one day after she wrote about the episode on Facebook. In an interview, she said, “It was like a nightmare came true.”

Read more at The New York Times

Meet the Young Activists of Color who are Leading the Charge Against Climate Disaster

Indisputably, Greta Thunberg is an exemplary leader — inspiring thousands of students worldwide to walk out of class every Friday to protest climate disaster and bringing attention to the Global Climate Strikes last month, in which 4 million people participated. The 16-year-old Swedish founder of the Fridays for Future movement is passionate about spurring those in power to take drastic steps to save humanity’s future, even addressing Congress and the UN to demand accountability.

However, Thunberg never asked to be the messianic-like face for the climate movement. In fact, she told Congress, “I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.” And by the media and public making her the center of youth-led climate activism, the work of many Indigenous, Black, and Brown youth activists is often erased or obscured.

Read more at Vox.

The U.S. Has Been Silencing Black Girls’ Voices for Decades

A recent story about a group of girls fighting for civil rights in Georgia in the 1960s serves as a vital reminder that racial injustice is deeply rooted in the history of our juvenile justice system — and shows us how Black girls’ voices, resistance, and leadership can help us pave the way for something better.

In the summer of 1963, a group of girls in Americus, Georgia, refused to accept the blatant discrimination around them. “We all wanted change,” Lulu Westbrook Griffin, who was just 12 at the time, told students last year during a presentation in Rochester City, New York. The girls wanted to fight against the discrimination they saw represented in the signs posted all over their town: “Whites only drinking fountain.” “Coloreds use the back door.” “No Negroes allowed.” They also fought more broadly for equity. “We wanted better schools. We wanted better jobs. We all wanted to be treated equally,” she explained in an interview for Heather E. Schwartz’s 2017 book Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade. “It was a matter of standing up for what you knew was right.”

Read more at Teen Vogue. 


The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

The new book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools is an examination of the experiences of Black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged “by teachers, administrators, and the justice system and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish.” In the book, author Monique Morris shows how, despite obstacles, stigmas, stereotypes, and despair, Black girls still find ways to breathe remarkable dignity into their lives in classrooms, juvenile facilities, and beyond.

Learn more at Truthout. 

Black Girls Can’t Dress Their Way Out of Racist or Sexist Policies

Schools are opening their doors to a new group of students, ready to take lessons designed to shape their lives and worldviews in lasting, meaningful ways. But what lessons will they draw from restrictive school dress codes? Nothing good. Yet, schools such as Roosevelt High School, which fared poorly in the National Women’s Law Center analysis of school dress codes, continue to enforce rigid dress code rules, regulating girls’ bodies with detailed descriptions of “appropriate” necklines, fit and shirt type and even banning skirts, dresses and shorts entirely.

Read more at the Washington Post

Fighting the Degrading and Dangerous Treatment of Menstruating Migrant Girls

It was only a matter of time before President Donald Trump made headlines again over periods.

Just four years ago, in August 2015, he accused then–Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly after the first presidential debate of having “blood coming out of her wherever.” The charge landed the once-taboo topic of menstruation smack in the middle of election coverage—and on the front page of nearly every major national and small-town newspaper in between. It even generated its own viral hashtag, #PeriodsAreNotAnInsult.

Now, 19 states filed a lawsuit in California this week against the Trump administration for the indefinite detention of and conditions endured by migrant children and their families. Among the charges of hygiene deprivation for children detained at the border—including the alleged lack of basics like toothpaste and bars of soap—is insufficient access to menstrual products and care. Testimony in the lawsuit included that: “Girl(s) at the facility…were each given one sanitary pad per day. Although the guards knew they had their periods, they were not offered showers or a change of clothes, even when the other girl visibly bled through her pants.”

Read more at Ms. Magazine. 

Half of Black Girls Report Being Sexually Coerced. There are Ways We Can Help Protect Them.

All women have a difficult time proving sexual abuse, but for black women and girls, it can be nearly impossible. So they often suffer in silence and abuse goes unreported. The decision by some African American women not to report their sexual assaults may also be influenced by a criminal justice system that historically has treated European-American perpetrators and victims differently than perpetrators and victims of color.

According to National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, among students, 11.2% of black girls in a national high school sample reported they had been raped and 52% of a black Midwestern high school and college students reported sexual coercion.

The purpose of the #Metoo movement, founded by Tarana Burke, was to empower women of color living in underprivileged communities who had experienced sexual abuse. She created a hashtag for the voiceless. But this movement has become a catalyst for white Hollywood actresses. Moving far from its source, one seldom hears references to the founder or to black women in the mainstream #Metoo discussion

Read more at the Journal Sentinel.

Schools Keep Punishing Girls who Report Sexual Assaults, and the Trump Administration’s Title IX Reforms Won’t Stop It

Early in the morning on Nov. 7, 2017, a teacher noticed a 14-year-old girl crying in the hallway at Carol City High School in Miami-Dade County. The girl, who was later referred to in court papers as Jane Doe, reportedly told the teacher, “I think I was raped.”

Moments later, Doe went to the assistant principal’s office to tell administrators about the three boys who she said sexually assaulted her in a school bathroom. A school police officer questioned Doe, a Latina ninth-grader, and asked her to write a statement about what happened. Later that day, Carol City High administrators decided the event was consensual. They suspended Doe and the three accused boys for 10 days, noting that the students had violated rules against “inappropriate sexual behavior” on campus, according to the state attorney’s office.

“School is supposed to be a resourceful place, somewhere you can trust,” Jane Doe, now 16, told The 74. “That wasn’t what it turned out to be. It turned out to be somewhere where they just turned their backs against you.”

The scenario that played out at Carol City High mirrors cases around the country. A school in Piscataway, New Jersey, handed a 10-day suspension for “disorderly conduct” to a black girl who said she had been sexually assaulted on a bus. After a girl in Tucson, Arizona, said that she had been raped, the school district suspended her for “public sexual indecency.” A Brooklyn, New York, high school suspended a 15-year-old female black-Hispanic student “with well-documented developmental disabilities” who was sexually assaulted by a group of boys, according to the complaint, because administrators considered it “consensual sexual conduct on school premises.” At least one of the accused male students was later charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

Read more at the LA School Report.

How Negative Perceptions At School Can Impact on Black Girls And Their Education

School is one of the most important early environments to foster future success in a child, and teachers play a huge part in crafting what their students’ future lives and careers will look like.

But when teachers play such an important role in guiding young and vulnerable mini-adults through the world, what happens when certain children aren’t given the same attention as their peers? When a child is seen as needing less nurture and support than their classmates, what kind of long-lasting impact can this have?

In 2017, Georgetown Law’s Centre on Poverty and Inequality released “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood“, a study that provided data showing that “adults view black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5-14.” Because of this, they are seen as needing “to be comforted less” and are assumed to know more about “adult topics”.

Read more at Refinery29.

Cyntoia Brown Is Getting Back The Childhood She & So Many Young Black Girls Never Had

The cruel joke of being a poor black girl in the South is that you are grown before you ask to be, and your childhood slips away before you can spell. Black girls are not given the kindness that southern gentility cultivates for white girls who make a few bad choices. Instead, black women and girls like Cyntoia Brown are jailed, punished, and killed for trying to survive in a world in which they were never meant to last.

In 2006, at the age of 16, Brown was sentenced to life in prison as an adult for shooting and killing Johnny Allen. Brown testified in her appeals hearing that she had been abused, raped, and forced into survival sex work, and said she shot Allen in fear for her life when she thought he reached for a gun after he paid her for sex.

For the past 15 years, Brown was incarcerated in a Tennessee prison, but this January, news broke that she would be released in seven months after outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam granted her a full commutation. She was officially released from prison Wednesday at age 31 and will serve 10 years of parole.

“At the crux of Cyntoia Brown’s story and her criminalization, we all can recognize that this baby does not belong in a cage at all and never did belong in a cage,” Brianna Baker, a teacher and the founder of Justice for Black Girls, tells Bustle. “She hasn’t had access to her girlhood for her entire life. Yes, we take the victory, but it’s bittersweet.”

Brown’s story is one of personal perseverance but also one of the power and strength of community organizing. The news of Brown’s commutation prompted a wail of relief from the black folks who have been on the frontlines of advocacy work around her case since 2011.

Read more at Bustle.