Why don't we talk about young black females?

Trayvon Martin poster
A girl holds a poster of Trayvon Martin as thousands gather to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech on August 24, 2013, near the Lincoln Memorial.

If Trayvon Martin had been a young black female, would the public have learned about the case? Probably not, wrote Jamila Aisha Brown for The Guardian.

"If Trayvon Martin had been a young black woman, no police chief would have resigned over a bungled investigation," she wrote. "No CNN host would be discussing the case of her accused killer. And we wouldn't be livestreaming her murder trial and hanging on every word of each witness. The reality is we would probably never have heard of her."

After the death of 17-year-old Martin in Florida in 2012, the challenges facing young black men and "the talk" parents have with their children received national coverage. But some say young black women are still invisible at a time when they are the "fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system," according to the Washington Post:

A recent report by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) shows that while males still dominate the justice system, the caseload for girls has grown significantly — from 20 percent of all juvenile arrests in 1980 to 30 percent in 2009. Girls of color make up nearly two-thirds of the female juvenile justice population. In fact, according OJJDP research, the average girl in the system is between 15 to 16 years old; lives in an urban environment with one parent and is a girl of color.

Girls are ending up in the system due to changing policing practices like zero tolerance in school and are more likely than their male peers to get in trouble for minor offenses.

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Monique Morris, author of the forthcoming book "Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century," told New America Media that not only would a young black female victim not be in the public eye, but the type of conversation that followed Martin's death wouldn't happen:

As with boys, the "talk" with black girls and young women is also a discussion about racism in America; and as with boys, it should include tips for how to be safe in the presence of law enforcement and include clear instructions about how to behave when they are suspected of wrongdoing in the presence of someone with a gun," she said. "But the talk also requires a candid discussion about sexism and patriarchy in our society and our racial justice movements. Our girls need to know how to identify sexism in all its forms, how to understand the ways it intersects with racism to create problematic narratives about the femininity of girls of color, and how their own education and self-determination can change these narratives and their devastating effects on policies and practices associated with education, justice, and the economy.


Dr. Monique Morris Describes Disturbing Trends of School-to-Confinement for Black Girls
More than one in 10 Black girls have experienced an out of school suspension. Four in ten Black girls do not graduate from high school. Black girls are more likely to experience exclusionary discipline (i.e., suspensions and expulsions) in schools, and the rate at which they are assigned to residential placement in the juvenile justice system is greater than for all other girls. While there are academic successes worth celebrating, the underbelly of our discussions about school pushout and school-to-confinement pathways is the invisibility of Black girls and the unique ways in which they are impacted by schools that function as overseers in a repressive structure that too often undermines the scholastic aptitude of Black students. (Your Black World)

Am I A Race Traitor? Trayvon Martin, Gender Talk, and Invisible Black Women
We, too, needlessly suffer simply for being born into a world in which the color of our skin determines the degree of our humanity. We, too, are not meant to survive — amidst stray bullets, a war on blackness, and a patriarchal capitalist system built on our free labor and sexual exploitation. We, too, are victims of "the race problem," media (in/hyper)visibility, forgottenness, temporality, and apathy. And until the killing, assault, and devaluation of black girls and women is as prominent on "the black agenda" as the murder, racial profiling, and incarceration of black boys and men, we, as a whole, will continue to suffer at the hands of one overarching structure of domination. (The Feminist Wire)

Trayvon Martin Is Still 'Our Son,' But What About Our Daughters?
While Trayvon's murder sparked much discussion about racism in our country, it should also call attention to sexism, particularly as it intersects with racism to distinctively affect the lives of African-American women. Black women, such as Trayvon's mother, are continually at the forefront of black activism, yet our plight remains invisible. (Huffington Post)

Why are black female victims seemingly invisible?
This apparent lack of concern and empathy for black women on the part of society lies in dehumanisation and 'othering'. Given that the dominant narrative the Western world over, is that of the white male existence, black women and other women of colour are doubly othered — on account of their race as well as their gender. (The Telegraph)