Protect Black Girls has been a rallying cry recently and yes it’s a beautiful thing to see society rally around a group who is typically thought of in negative stereotypes or not at all. There’s even a petition for the internet to pledge protection for Black girls. But what does that actually mean?
For one thing, the call to protect Black girls, or anyone for that matter, is a lifelong full-time commitment. Let’s be real, Black girls need protection from sexual predators, the legal system and everyday life. Safety and protection are not the types of things that can be implemented, they must be constructed. So it is up to us as a society to effect change where we can that can help shift the culture.
In America, we’ve adopted practices from our wretched history that still plague our girls to this day. The concept of adultification or the perception trap allows people to see little Black girls (as young as 5-years-old) as sexual or grown. This perception makes it easier for Black girls to be harshly punished, not believed when they break their silence around rape and sexual assault and it even allows them to be blamed for their own traumas.
This is the reason 6-year-old Madisyn Moore was handcuffed after taking candy from her teacher’s desk or why Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to 51 years in prison with no regard to why she needed to defend herself. Not every young girl who is unfairly punished ends up in the system, but there is some conditioning that happens when young girls are taught at an early age that they are viewed as criminals.
Check out The OverExplainer for a break down of Protect Black Girls and some action items around what we can do to make that happen.