Why you gonna take me seriously if I don’t show you that I’m in charge of myself? That I’m no joke. You ain’t gonna respect me until you know that what I say is for real. —Samantha, a 14-year-old girl
There ain’t nothing more convincing than a good punch. —Lakeesha, a 16-year-old girl
This girl tried to really mess me up once. She brought three other girls with her. I knew I was gonna get it, so I cracked her on the side of her face with this can that was on the ground. They thought I was so crazy they just picked up their friend and left me alone. —Victoria, a 15-year-old girl
Fighting is about image. It’s about showing you’re no punk. I know I don’t rule the world, but I can feel like I do, make you think I do. Fighting is independence. I beat someone up if I feel like it. – Allie
Last week in Delaware, Amy Joyner-Francis died after being getting into a fight with one girl and then she was piled on by others. During the brutal altercation, she hit her head and became unconscious. She later died of her injuries (although the autopsy for exact cause of death is still under investigation). She was 16 years old, an honor roll student at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, manager of the wrestling team, and had both her mother and father in her life and very engaged.
The reasons for the fight varies depending on who you talk to or what you read. Some say it was over a boy, while others say it was bullying. We focus so much on our black boys that our black girls and women are being left to fend for themselves. Our black girls are becoming invisible and not being protected because the “fear” is that our black boys and men need to be protected more.
A year before this a 15 year old girl was in a Brooklyn McDonald’s and was jumped by multiple girls for over 10 minutes while close to a hundred people watched , cheered, and videotaped it. She had multiple bruises, two black eyes and when she spoke with the police she refused to name who the girls were because they may have been linked to a gang called the Young Savages out of Crown Heights. They finally arrested five or six of them. Additionally, the girl that was jumped made Facebook posts of her celebrity status because she survived a beat-down and never gave up fighting.
- School discipline policies position Black girls as “captive objects.” The girls are under constant surveillance while they are refused access to agency, autonomy, and self-defense against multiple forms of violence including gratuitous punishment inflicted by school faculty.
- Black women (and girls) are not only criminalized and punished by the police and prison system, they are also subject to criminalization and policing by a myriad of state institutions including the foster care system and schools.
- Schools have simultaneously over policed Black girls while neglecting their complex needs. Their studies demonstrate that, in addition to the criminal justice system, school discipline policies also criminalize Black girls.
- According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office (2014), 12% of school-aged Black girls across the country have experienced out of school suspensions, compared with 7% for Native American girls, 4% for Latinas, and 2% for White girls.
- Women and girls are under resourced, they are also more likely to be subject to institutional racism, leaving them with limited options for protection against interpersonal and state violence.
- In cases of domestic and sexual violence, women and girls of color, specifically Black women and girls, are less likely to be afforded the possible protections or options provided through institutional and financial support.
- Aiesha also feels that she must counter an act of disrespect or face a worse challenge later. She recognizes all too well that in her neighborhood backing down is seen as a sign of weakness and fear.
- As a rule, if a girl is known to have good backup, she is less likely to be rolled on.
- Pride related to having been rolled on is often connected to a girl being able to say that she “got it bad,” had the strength of character to pick herself up off the ground, and then summoned her own network of supporters to mete out even harsher treatment than she herself had received.
- Other reasons that girls cite for fighting are insults to their mother, loyalty to designated others, and venting pent-up rage.
- Beyond one’s mother and immediate family, loyalty may be pledged to a wide range of associates, though sometimes only on a temporary basis. It is not unusual for girls to move in and out of “understandings” with other girls based on the normal ebb and flow of who is “in” and who is “out” of a clique on a given week.
- Girls readily acknowledge that another reason they fight is to deal with pent-up rage. The anger that many walk around with can be related to long-standing family problems or the accumulation of everyday pressures, and it varies from girl to girl.
- Fathers are often cited as the cause of a range of negative emotions and recurring negative experiences, as are teachers, the police, and various professionals who have passed through the lives of girls (i.e., social workers, probation officers).
- That boys typically become violent because they are beaten, while girls become violent because they have been violated sexually.
- Competition over boys in low-income areas clearly can have an added economic dimension that raises the stakes beyond typical adolescent worries or “he-said, she-saids”—girls frequently feel a need to protect their place as a boy’s main girlfriend because that role often comes with spending money and a long list of other coveted perks; even boys who do not deal drugs are frequently looked to by their girlfriends for “incidentals.” This is especially the case if a girl is the “B.M.” (baby’s mother)—the mother of a baby produced from a union with a boy—(Ness, 2004).
The Black male and boys are not going extinct. This myth needs to be dispelled and our black women need to be heard. I understand the need to provide programs and resources for our black boys and me, but you can’t invest millions on them without slighting our women and girls. The efforts you grind for, for them has to be just as demanding for our girls. Local programs and resources have always been at the forefront of women issues. Why can’t it be national? History has told many tales and stories of the black boys and men, but pieces of stories about our sisters and wives. Women are not a subclass! – AcademicHustler1975
“Black male exceptionalism” is the premise that African American men fare more poorly than any other group in the United States. The discourse of Black male exceptionalism presents African American men as an “endangered species.” Some government agencies, foundations, and activists have responded by creating “Black male achievement” programs. There are almost no corresponding “Black female achievement” programs. Yet empirical data does not support the claim that Black males are burdened more than Black females. Without attention to intersectionality, Black male achievement programs risk obscuring Black females and advancing patriarchal values. Black male achievement programs also risk reinforcing stereotypes that African American males are violent and dangerous. An intersectional approach would create space for Black male focused interventions, but require parity for Black female programs. – Paul Butler
I recently wrote a paper on this topic a few months back. These were some of the takeaways.
Butler, Paul D. (2013), “Black Male Exceptionalism? The Problems and Potential of Black Male-Focused Interventions” (2013). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1314.
Herbert J. Gans (2011). THE MOYNIHAN REPORT AND ITS AFTERMATHS. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 8, pp 315-327. doi:10.1017/S1742058X11000385.
Ness, Cindy D. (2010), Why Girls Fight : Female Youth Violence in the Inner City (1). New York, US: NYU Press, 2010. ProQuest ebrary.
Washburn Law Journal, ARTICLE: Political Invisibility of Black Women: Still Suspect but No Suspect Class Fall, 2010, Angela Mae Kupenda, with Letitia Simmons Johnson and Ramona Seabron-Williams
Wun, Connie (2016), Against Captivity: Black Girls and School Discipline Policies in the Afterlife of Slavery, Educational Policy, January 2016, Volume 30, 171-196, 10.1177/0895904815615439
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Thank you, it’s much appreciated!