The Bias Behind Labeling Black Girls as ‘Street Smart’
I would like to add something that has always annoyed me. The term “street smart” is always associated with black kids. I have always asked “what the hell does that mean”. If a black kid is poor, and he or she has seen and experienced events that they should not have seen at such a young age, e.g. heard gun fire in their neighborhoods or murders, society adultifies them because of the experience. Society characterizes said children as having grown wiser and stronger because of these bad experiences. Additionally, since these experiences have purportedly enhanced the lives of these children, these children are expected to behave like adults because they should know how bad life is. As a result, they are not given the grace period to grow and behave as normal teens, and their actions are dealt with harshly. Racism has a tendency to assign these bad experiences to black children, many of whom live in middle class or even upper class neighborhoods who have never experienced these traumas, but who are treated as though they have. Additionally, since society has determined that such negative experiences were positive, it doesn’t feel a need to either protect such children or give them psychological counseling or support. On the flip side. Look at the school shootings. Those kids are given psychological care immediately. Those kids are not expected to cope. And the experiences are rightfully characterized as what they are—traumatic events that can alter a child’s psyche, sense of stability, and safety. Society seems to know and understand that there is nothing positive about being in a school shooting, being shot at, or witnessing murder. The news recently has been filled with stories about how the kids at Columbine and other mass shootings have never recovered and have suffered years of drug use and/or committed suicide. There is a striking difference in how these kids are treated compared to black children. Assigning adultification to black kids definitely removes the responsibility from society to help these kids. It also justifies society’s racist vilification and treatment of these innocent children.