Plight of Black girls in Wake County schools focus of special community conversation

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The plight of Black girls in Wake County schools was in full focus, Thursday night, at a virtual town hall organized by the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute of Advocacy and Social Action.

"I just feel (Black girls) are misunderstood," one Wake County mom told the panel.

Attorney Serenity Hargrove of Legal Aid of North Carolina added, "I know we speak about our young brothers and our boys. But I think it's just as important to shed light on our Black girls because they're so important. And because they're resilient."

But the panel warned that young Black women are too often assumed to be strong or tough and lesser need of empathetic nurturing than White girls.

"The words that I'm hearing (related to Black girls) are 'ratchet', 'sassy', 'disrespectful', 'combative', 'defiant', said attorney and therapist Regenia Hubbard. "I must admit when I was thinking about what I would say tonight, I had to really think about my own biases, my own implicit biases."

Parts of the conversation built on themes presented last month in an ABC11 special, "Inequity in Education." Monique Raeford, a Black mother in west Cary, shared her 11-year-old daughter's Wake County schools story.

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We took an in-depth look at racial inequity in education; digital divide, which addresses the hardship in digital learning; food insecurities among economically disadvantaged students; and racial disparities surmounting in Latino communities.

"Every day I got a call about my daughter being angry. And that we need to teach her how to deal with this anger," Raeford said.

It's what called "adultification bias." Researchers at Georgetown Law found adults view Black girls as more adult-like and less-innocent than white girls which can lead to teachers or administrators projecting negative stereotypes onto young Black women as angry or aggressive -- a racist trope that current Wake School Board Member Monika Johnson-Hostler admitted to the panel she felt as a girl and still feels today.

"I've had people on this current board say to me, 'Well I thought you were angry.' And I say, no, I talk loud when I'm excited or passionate about anything," Hostler recalled. "And so if I'm still experiencing that as an adult, we certainly know the impact that's having on our young girls."

Thursday's virtual event sold out online and easily exceeded its two-hour time frame. It concluded with an eagerness to continue the conversation. There's already talk of staging another one.
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