Giving Compass’ Take:
• Patrisse Khan-Cullers and asha bandele explore what is like to be a Black girl in America, exposing racist policies in schools and police departments.
• How can philanthropy support the alteration of racist policies and policies that allow racial bias to persist? How can philanthropy support Black children who have already suffered racist discipline?
• Learn about racist school discipline across the U.S.
The first time I am arrested, I am 12 years old.
The summer school I attend is for the kids who live in my neighborhood. It doesn’t have a campus, but it has metal detectors and police.
No other Millikan kids come here. I still think of myself as a student there, which I am but not for these summer months, and one day I do what I’d learned from my Millikan peers to do to cope: I smoke some weed.
At Millikan it is a daily occurrence for kids to show up to class high, to light up in the bathroom, to smoke on the campus lawn. No one gets in trouble. Nowhere is there police.
Two days later a police officer comes to my class.
The cop tells me to come to the front of the room, where he handcuffs me in front of everyone and takes me to the dean’s office, where my bag is searched, where I am searched, pockets turned out, shoes checked, just like my brothers in the alleyway when I was 9 years old. I have no weed on me but I am made to call my mother at work and tell her what happened, which I do through tears. I didn’t do it, Mommy, I lie through genuine tears of fear.
I learned I didn’t matter from the very same place that lifted me up, the place I’d found my center and voice: school.
But having attended schools with both Black and white girls, one thing I learned quickly is that while we can behave in the same or very similar ways, we are almost never punished similarly. In fact, in white schools, I witnessed an extraordinary amount of drug use compared to what my friends in my neighborhood schools experienced. And yet my friends were the ones policed.
Read the full article about the criminalization of Black children by Patrisse Khan-Cullers and asha bandele at YES! Magazine.
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