‘It’s More Than Just Tragic’: Ma’Khia Bryant and the Burden of Black Girlhood
“Because of layers of gendered racism, adults tend to view Black girls as more threatening, more aggressive, more mature and less innocent than white girls of the same age, robbing Black girls of the freedom to be children, according to a 2017 report by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality.
The report found that Black girls as young as 5 years old are held to adultlike standards and, in turn, receive harsher punishments for their behavior: Black girls are more likely to be suspended or arrested at school than their white peers, often for minor infractions, like using their cellphones or throwing tantrums. In another report by the same researchers, one girl recalled that in elementary school, during a game at recess, she had thrown a ball and it had hit another girl in the face. She was then accused of assault and battery. Others shared that if they spoke up in class, they were labeled sassy or outspoken, while their white peers were seen as intelligent.
Though Black boys also face the same adultification bias, the experience of Black girls has been and still is largely overlooked.”