The Exclusionary Discipline Practices That Disproportionately Affect Black Female Students

The Exclusionary Discipline Practices That Disproportionately Affect Black Female Students

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The Exclusionary Discipline Practices That Disproportionately Affect Black Female Students


The case of being the first fired and last hired has always been an inescapable truth for black people living in America. Equality if any seemed like an all too distant fantasy for almost all black people and this inequality seemed to be even more encompassing and worse if you take into account just how unfairly women of color have been treated in the past (Butler, 1974). Race being an all too unavoidable factor in America it is easy to see just how it affects almost every part of the countries` culture. This also includes policies put in place to favor certain groups of people at the cost of impoverishing or taking more adequate resources from other people. Critical race feminism shows us just how marginalized and disadvantaged women of color are in a mostly patriarchal society. When it comes to matters of race and culture most research and reports fail to account for the gender complexity that women of color face and hence it might be easy to confuse the achievement of the black man as the overall success of the entire African- American community.

Hooks defines the outer edge in which black females live as part of the whole but outside the main body. The key undeniable question remains, on where exactly does a black woman fit in today’s American society given that they have been historically marginalized based on race and based on gender (Levesque, 2016). Adding to the further inadequate research material and thus minimal material to work with on black females this work becomes exponentially harder to do and thus requires as much time and information as possible. Major authors such as Hill Collins have come up with various ways to tackle this issue and thus find ways to discuss the importance of recognizing the validity of black women’s epistemology and thus remind us that historically black females have participated in shared history and stories that are worth repeating. Thus instead of constantly labeling, overlooking, and ignoring black females, there is no doubt a need to address the unique needs of this given group.

Problem Statement

This paper in general looks at the various practices put in place to disproportionately affect women of color from various life opportunities and mostly from the education sector as a whole. The race will be a critical factor to look at but gender plays a key underlying tone that tells us why most black women are disproportionately affected.

The importance of looking into this problem is to see how best we can come up with solutions to solve them. After all the acceptance that there is a problem is the first step in trying to solve the issue.

Solutions aside this paper greatly gives us insight into situations we never existed to a marginalized group that is mostly ignored that showing us how other less advantageous individuals view the education system. Although most individuals are prone to the belief that we live in a post-race society this paper in hindsight will prove if such a case is true and how exactly this system has proven that we no longer live in a racial society (Ricks, 2014). Looking into various educational programs and evaluating the usefulness of frameworks put in place will be an even bigger advantage to educators and school administrators to show where this framework needs improvement and what current enforced programs should not be altered. Evaluation and policymaking are the tools to create a better school system but insight into how the current system works will give us a better understanding of what exactly needs to change.


The majority of institutions that disproportionately affect women of color are most colleges and high schools. In more instances than one school located in the south of America are more rampant to employ such tactics to further discourage black and colored women in particular from attaining higher levels of education. The displacement of black educators in states such as Louisiana gives us an even more amazing example of the inequality that hinders the progress in education for black people. Desegregation acts are more of an easier means by which states can implement policies that get rid of black educators in favor of implementing a system that greatly hinders black people’s education. On May 17, 1954, when the supreme court handed down its decision of Brown vs. Board of education, black people, in particular, were overjoyed at this amazing chance to finally get a decent opportunity at education for themselves and their children (Ricks, 2014). Their hopes over the years have unfortunately not come to pass due to the ever-increasing policies to ensure their inevitable failure in the educational sector. Since the great American dream is unfortunately tied to education as a whole it has thus been next to impossible for black people to be a part or attain such a dream. Without proper access to the education offered at the public school system, the American dream remains more of an unattainable goal for most if not all black people. A greater example of the hindrance to education that plague colored people would be of how the south defied orders to integrate colored people into the public means of education until 1966 when years of legal battles slowly but surely allowed the eventual integration of some students and staff members into the education system (Evans et al., 2010). Still even after the integration and eventually the allow of educators and students, more devious tactics were still implemented to make the education system not only difficult but also next to impossible for colored women in particular

Those Affected and Resolution

The complete disregard for how the education system is supposed is only more prevalent when it involves matters of race and most importantly when it comes to matters of educating young black girls. Since most teachers displaced or removed from institutions of higher learning are black this creates a kind of inhospitable environment for black students who end up with nobody to guide them or advise them on how to particularly engage in both schoolwork and day-to-day school activities. Black female students are particularly affected by this system since there is a particular belief that improving the status of black men will single-handedly solve all the complex problems facing African American communities which is a false assumption (Creswell et al., 2017). Although black is considered more self-actualized than their male counterparts this slight advantage does not in any way shield them from forms of micro-aggression that stem from class, gender biases, and race. A sharp increase in enrollment of black women in institutions of higher learning has been noted but this increase does not in any way show mean that colored women get a slightly better advantage in life than anyone else. More data has shown that black women earn fewer graduate and professional degrees than most although their number as freshmen has increased from 6% to 8%.

The issue of inequality, race, and gender biases is an all too common characteristic of most American colleges for black female students. This issue in hindsight must be resolved to create a fair education system that allows for hard work and qualifications to be the underlying achievements that matter in school. If such a fair enough system is achieved, then other gender-based and racial can also be resolved to create an America that firmly stands by its ideals to ensure that each individual has a chance at the ‘American dream’ (Butler, 1974).

Where is The Problem

To tackle this racial and gender-based problem would require more than just implementing policies but also a complete look at how we usually tackle this problem within our country. Both the schools themselves and society itself would need a complete shift and way of thinking so that we effectively come up with means that easily help solve this issue. Most theories are framed from a white man`s perspective and thus most theories dealing with females are framed for white females. Both of these have forced black women to be their spokespersons in regards to the importance of more inclusive theoretical frameworks. In unfavorable conditions that have repeatedly told black girls that they do not matter, particular coping mechanisms have been developed as a kind of defensive skill (Frierson, 2012). One way in which we see this is in the schools whereby black girls develop race-less personas to create a kind of absence of behavior and attitude-like characteristics to a particular race. In short, if black girls adopt the most popular characteristics of the majority culture in school they can thus achieve a kind of successful status in education. This kind of logic is not only harmful but also degrading since it teaches black girls that their success is entirely dependent on them changing completely and not being who they were original. While this method and reasoning may help black females in their survival of the educational sector, it does so by demanding a cost in which the individuals have altered parts of themselves if not themselves completely.

A common example of how black girls alter themselves is learning how to be invisible in school. By presenting themselves as people who can only be seen and not heard thus allowing them to go about day-to-day school activities more easily. While this may be the case for some others opt to increase their visibility by adopting stereotypical labels like aggression, loudness, anger, or even promiscuousness (Levesque, 2016).

Other more unavoidable circumstances are when blacks are more likely to be vulnerable to disciplinary approaches that may end up pushing them out of school and at times straight into the legal system. According to a majority of statistical reports such as the U.S Department of Education office for civil rights, black girls make up a marginal number of students nationwide but are unfortunately overrepresented among students who face discipline that excludes or at times criminalizes them. In almost all categories of data that shows disciplinary actions in schools’ black girls are in more than one represented in all of them with an overwhelming number due to over-representation and excessively unnecessary disciplinary action. These punishments result from a host of punitive reasons, negative student behavior, and a lack of alternatives to exclusionary discipline (Bristol et al., 2019). The set of disciplinary conditions they are subjected to makes them uniquely vulnerable to more academic marginalization and thus various other means of race confinement. This in turn leads to policies, prevailing attitudes, and practices in the educational institution that will in all likelihood lead to contact between the youth and juvenile or criminal legal systems.

Black girls are at the front of experiencing race and gender-based oppression such as sexual victimization, poor-student-teacher relationship, biases, and violence that affected how policies such as attire and uniform are enforced. This goes to show just how much a legacy of segregation and slavery has greatly planted in the public consciousness a misrepresentation of black femininity. Stereotypical norms are the major cause of this misrepresentation since they view the black girl as sassy, combative, hyper-sexual, and at times loud. What I mostly do not see as a stereotypical norm but as a recurring feature is black girls’ increased risk and exposure to violence (Evans et al., 2010). The stereotypical norm of hypersexuality further increases and compounds historical trauma that greatly affects black girls’ mental health and also physical health since it has become a common reality that they are subject to rape and other forms of sexual violence. This phenomenon is visible when we take into account the number of black girls in the juvenile legal system who are disproportionately at risk of school pushouts have been documented to have historic accounts of physical or sexual abuse. A more alarming cause of death among black girls is unintentional injuries and homicide.

Schools have always been the main institutions that focus on the development and further achievements of their students to succeed but historically this has not been the case to many black individuals in America who have struggled to attain a better chance at the education system (Butler, 1974). Taking into consideration the marginalized groups in the country we see a large number of African-American women being adversely affected by the current school situational system and just how vulnerable that such a group is to an unfair system.

Internal Data to Help Generate a Plan

The most conclusive data we can implement and work on is one from school enrollments and graduation rates of black female students so that we can at least use the numbers as a means of knowing the various challenges such students face. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2013), black males have experienced a major reduction in dropout rate from 13% to 7% between the years 1990 and 2011 as compared to the 5% rate for whites during the same period (Levesque, 2016). Although these numbers are given as a measure of what is happening they do not accurately give or reflect the complexity of the challenges students of color face and most especially the experiences, outcomes, and performance of black girls.

Statistically speaking approximately 53% of the U.S. population will be women of color by the year 2050 as depicted by the Center for American Progress in 2013. Thus the idea of dismissing or leaving them out is completely unacceptable and practically speaking not something worth considering doing.

Other data from institutions such as the National Women`s Law Center and NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, have comprehensive information on the many impediments to African-American girls’ education and success and thus the poor educational and economical outcomes many girls greatly face (Bristol et al.,2019).

The Start of This Problem

Gender biases have always been a common issue in America especially when it came to giving women equal rights to men. This issue has even become worse when mixed with the issue of race which has all too well been a common American problem since the countries inception. In American history, education has been a recurring act of resistance for black people across the country. For black women in particular education has been well-documented as a struggle since they particularly saw the importance of reading and writing and thus tried to find different creative ways to teach each other (Creswell et al., 2017). This information in particular came in less than organized gatherings while other women found ways such as organization of schools. This means of educating other people came at a grave cost to most black people since the right to learn and read was considered a crime with unmistakable horrific consequences. This need to rebel to educate fellow slaves became a brave act that later left an impact and inspired hundreds of slaves.

Although for many blacks, education was viewed then and now as the only means of attaining freedom and equality and thus was seen greatly by many whites as a threat. Thus over time states created laws that prohibited the education of not only slaves but also free or freed blacks. According to historical reports, between 1800 to 1835 most of the southern states passed legislation that made it a criminal act to teach enslaved children to read or write but still despite these laws black people sought out educational opportunities as a way up and free from slavery through the civil rights movement. The infamous 1945 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson`s separate but equal American doctrine and thus was considered by many blacks as a major victory that sought out justice and equity in the educational system (Ricks, 2014). Sixty years after this ruling promised to fix and repair faulty education systems and thus provide equal educational opportunities, black people regardless of income level, age, educational level, and age are still fighting the same battle that further still seeks for educational equality and children rights.

Practices That Relate with The Problem

The various practices that slow down women’s progress and further hinder black women’s ability to create wealth and adequate income include racial and gender bias nesses in schools. The further complication of the political atmosphere does in no means help the current issue. Barack Obama`s landscape win seems to have created a catalytic phenomenon in which most Americans believe they live in a post-race society. Taking his eventual win as a victory for the African American community has thus led to the issue becoming ever more increasingly complex especially in regards to those being affected such as black students in the classroom. In hindsight, his victory was a historical moment that greatly held immense significance for the nation and the world but it did not in any way erase the realities of common everyday social experiences that black people had to endure (Levesque, 2016). Thus, holding his election and victory as a symbolic term is quite dangerous in part because of the potential of suspending policies that in more ways than one target the various inequities in the education sector. This viewpoint in which most U.S citizens especially ones in a position of power and influence see themselves as having moved beyond the racial divisions of the past will continue to fuel the end to all race and ethnicity-based policies that are aimed at mostly reducing social inequities.

School`s overly harsh responses to black girls in what they term as defiance behavior fails in all likelihood to take into account the underlying cause of such conduct and whether or not there might be true. Some of these causes that lead to a change in conduct may include abuse, trauma, toxic stress, or violence from exposure to sexism, racism, or even poverty.

Black girls who in most cases have been victims of violence, harassment, and trauma are in most cases considered to be aggressive yet this is just a predictive response to victimization and unaddressed problem in mental health issues. Acts of violence either outside or within the vicinity of the school if not properly addressed can greatly undermine students’ educational opportunities (Butler, 1974). Taking into account that black girls and women experience the highest rate of sexual violence and spousal violence than any other group, the number thus is no surprise that the highest reports of sexual harassment at school are disproportionately expected to be victims from low-income areas which in most cases made up of the highest majority of African-American women.

Being stuck in the school to poverty pathway has been the inevitable outcome and disadvantage of a majority of black girls especially ones raised in low-income areas. Without proper access to a good education system, these black girls are all but doomed to such a system that does not do much to cater to their needs. From instances of violence, sexual assaults, and even poverty the number of challenges that black girls endure is more than a multitude but even so a proper education should not be among the key challenges that hinder their progress and stifles their growth in the world by denying them key essential items to help them succeed (Bristol et al., 2019).

Values Influencing the Issue

The belief and norm of a patriarch in which the society is mostly male-dominated with no equal rights to women as well racial discrimination practices which ensure that people of color are denied essential basic services. And also the belief that we are operating in a post-racial society gives white people an excuse and a basis to ignore and thus opt to place blame on marginalized groups for their inevitable disadvantage of not being able to attain success in general or even success compared to white people. This in turn creates an unavoidable situation in which marginalized individuals have to struggle with the day-to-day tasks of that the problem of racism still exists (Creswell et al., 2017). This concern on post-racialism focuses solely on issues of the race thus ensuring that very little is put into the discussion of gender and race and thus ensured that marginalized black girls are given little to no attention in regards to the specific issues they undergo.

Although most issues in regards to gender are viewed in a post-racial way it is even more important to note that when they are taken seriously they are viewed from the focus and experience of black boys in the educational system. This focus does not in any way rationalize or give a reason to ignore the experiences of their female counterparts. While the social and educational crisis for black boys has greatly benefitted from the implementation of various programs specific to them the neglect and complete oversight of their female counterparts is a clear reminder of other previous historical examples (Evans et al., 2010). A clear example is the civil rights movement in which women of color were expected

Literature Review

Theoretical Base to Examine the Problem

Various other forms greatly show the struggle of black female students when it comes to matters of education. The needs of black girls are often overlooked by many individuals such as policymakers, administrators, and also at times teachers. Years of regular oversight have contributed to a lack of good enough policies and educational programs that will in all likelihood better be used to address the impact of both racism and sexism on the education policies that are imposed on young black girls (Butler, 1974). Policies that focus mostly on race and sexism are extremely ignorant of the unique positions black girls live and learn in their lives. Further discussion in this issue to build a post-racism country is further required. This paper in general looks at the neglect and thus comes up with a useful framework to aid teachers and administrators to find a means of bridging the divide between educational programming and policies.

Education has always played a fundamental role in the lives of black women in the united states especially through their various means of holding key educational positions such as teachers, administrators, and students throughout the years. And although their roles have been explicitly clear black women however have not been placed at the forefront of education policy discussions. Instead, such discussions greatly continue to ignore the complex intersectionality of both race and gender hence putting a focus on programming that is tailor-made per group. Such programs are problematic since they lack to acknowledge gender-based racism (Bristol et al., 2019). Therefore, this acknowledgment leads to a kind of thinking in that there is no need to discuss issues of race in America. Such oversight continues to add to the invisibility of black girls and thus continues supporting the narrative of an individual acting out or at times being resistant.

The increase in the number of black girls subjected to instances of violence, sexual assault, and poverty has become an alarming number too big to ignore. Current research still estimates no decrease in this number and thus more immediate and useful actions need to be taken if at all this issue is going to be resolved (Frierson, 2012).

Practices That Will Help

Raising awareness on the bias nesses of the educative system on black women to ensure it is a priority and thus ensure they are greatly helped. Another practice is to implement mentorship programs that address the needs of the black girl. Such a program will help black girls disrupt a common narrative being portrayed and thus provide such girls access to experience, survival skills, and wisdom from their older individuals who were in more likely situations as those (Evans et al., 2010). This program will help black women share their given experiences and thus further help them create a common viewpoint. Another major advantage of such a program will be to create focus on major academic areas for black girls such as academic pride, a work ethic with a given motivational goal, a willingness to make sacrifices, and an internal locus of control. Their ability to address these given areas will their academic potential and thus lead to socio-emotional success. To fully support black girls and ensure their academic success, certain programs and initiatives have to be implemented to be used to address their key issues and thus gendered-based racism present in the education system. To be properly effective these initiatives have to look for both systemic solutions and individual ones (Creswell et al., 2017).

Various data have come to show that resiliency, social justice, and racialized identity may be a key necessity for black girls to be successful in education (Levesque, 2016). Although such a method may be viewed as a necessity it does so at the cost of asking black girls to change themselves and their identity to progress forward.

A more precise and encouraging approach would be the CARE (Connection, Awareness, Retraining, and Encouragement) model. It emphasizes the importance of an integrated and more holistic approach when it comes to working with black girls in the education system (Butler, 1974). The program’s main purpose is to focus on four major areas which are encouragement, connection, programming, and awareness to find key means in which they can all work together to protect black girls. Due to the nature of the task, a demand to be highly aware is required in the education sector and thus a constant willingness among professionals to come up with enforceable meaningful change at both the systematic and individual level.

Another more useful component of developing healthy gender-based responsive learning environments is recognizing the leading cause of trauma for black girls as we slowly create proper responses to student behavior (Levesque, 2016). Healing or informed learning spaces are created to be “safe places” that further protect students and educators from the eventuality of re-traumatization. Safe places need to have an absence of prejudice or judgment and thus create an emphasis to help create positive relationships among teachers, black girls, and even their peers. Relationships over time create an ideal environment that fosters trust and growth especially with marginalized individuals and groups (Evans et al., 2010). Developing clear rules with non-punitive interventions helps support student accountability in instances where rule-breaking occurs including restorative and transformative programs centered on addressing the root cause of the conflict or misbehavior.

To efficiently and effectively create these safe spaces we have to review the various codes of conduct that discriminate against black girls to revise the said policies and make proper changes to them that are non-discriminatory (Ricks, 2014). Discussing with students on the various measurements to be put in place is also an effective way to engage with a given marginalized group such as black girls to get their viewpoint on the matter. For any girls in recovery from trauma, an adequate and effective means would be play therapy to get their viewpoints on things or cognitive-behavioral interventions such as stress management techniques that greatly support readiness for learning.

To facilitate and help educators be more empathetic to the struggles of black girls an unbiased curriculum that is diverse and gender-inclusive must be integrated into schools to engage students of color particularly girls and thus create a relationship that is understanding and appreciative of other cultures. This curriculum would imply that reinforced negative stereotypes would not be engaged in schools especially ones about race associated with students or communities of color (Evans et al., 2010). Guidance on college and career pathways is another great way of helping at-risk black girls especially ones in situations of school push out succeed in overcoming poverty and become economically successful.

To address the issue facing black girls in the various schools and institutions will require a collaborative and coordinated effort among a large group of stakeholders such as educators and policymakers and later on to community members and philanthropists who all have a keen interest in helping tackle this issue to create a truly fair school system (Frierson, 2012). Although this work seems strenuous at best it will be more than worth the effort for not only schools but black girls who are undervalued and frankly in need of a better system of education.

ReferencesBristol, T. J., & Martin-Fernandez, J. (2019). The Added Value of Latinx and Black Teachers for Latinx and Black Students: Implications for the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Butler, J. S. (1974). Black educators in Louisiana-A question of survival. The Journal of Negro Education, 43(1), 9-24.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Sage publications.

Evans-Winters, V. E., & Esposito, J. (2010). Other People’s Daughters: Critical Race Feminism and Black Girls’ Education. Educational Foundations, 24, 11-24.

Frierson, H. T. (2012). Black female undergraduates on campus: Successes and challenges. Emerald Group Publishing.

Levesque, R. J. (Ed.). (2016). Adolescents, rapid social change, and the law: The transforming nature of protection. Springer.

Ricks, S. A. (2014). Falling through the Cracks: Black Girls and Education. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning, 4(1), 10-21.