Books Race & Racism Videos

Are Black girls being pushed out of San Francisco Schools?

I’ve been reading Dr. Monique Morris’ book Sing a Rhythm, Dance the Blues this past weekend. It has so many great quotes, I can’t stop highlighting it!

This quote serves as a summary of the themes covered in her book:

“Black girls, are overrepresented along the school discipline continuum, we need to understand the conditions they perceive as threatening to their well-being, then understand that their behavior is a response to those conditions.”

— Dr. Monique Morris

This has me thinking a lot lately about the ways women of color and especially Black girls are treated in our schools. I know first-hand this treatment extends to Black mothers, aunties, and grandmothers. (and even to famous news journalists like Jemele Hill!) Criminalization, marginalization, erasure. We have study after study about the adultification of Black girls; the ways people minimize Black pain; and the sexualization of Black girls/women. Nonetheless, when systems talk about ways to address these societal problems, they always focus on individual approaches.

Racism is by its nature systemic. Addressing systemic problems with a case-management approach is willfully avoiding the problem.

I’m no longer interested in looking at charts of Black, Native American, Latinx, and Samoan/Pacific Islander lack of success in our schools. I’m interested in seeing what SFUSD students are saying about the system. Do they feel welcomed, valued, visible, cared-for, supported, heard, loved?

This video Black Girls Breaking Silence on School Push-Out, highlights the ways Black girls are made to feel unwelcome in our education system.

I want to be clear, this conversation is not meant to be a finger-pointing session. The push-out of Black girls is nothing new, it has been happening for hundreds of years and is happening in our education system nation-wide. It happens in private schools, charter schools, and public schools. Nonetheless, watching the video below of Black girls speaking about their experiences, reminds me we need to elevate this conversation and really begin listening to our girls. In order for me to be responsible in my charge as Commissioner, it has made me realize I need to go on a tour of SFUSD to talk with Black girls and see how they are experiencing our schools.

On a positive note…

I’m already working on addressing anti-black racism and positive school culture in our schools. For the first time in SFUSD history, our district will be taking on the task of analyzing which books are included in reading lists. We can’t say we value all voices and then systematically exclude those who have been historically marginalized.

Racism is by its nature systemic. Addressing systemic problems with a case-management approach is willfully avoiding the problem.

— Alison Collins

You can learn more about the Equity Studies Resolution I co-authored with Commissioner Jenny Lam to ensure each and every student feels valued and visible in our schools. For the first time ever, this includes mandatory implicit bias training for all educators throughout the district (including central office!). It also includes reviewing book lists, textbooks, district calendars, and school celebrations. Finally, we will see all schools celebrating Black History Month! (If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’ve been advocating for Black History Month at ALL SFUSD schools for years now! It took getting on the School Board to finally get a commitment on this—but the Superintendent has promised me It. Will. Happen. This Year!)

As amazing educator and #distrupttext co-creator Tricia Ebarvia states, in this Twitter thread, if you want to address racism you have to look at policy, and if you want to address racism in schools you have to look at curricula.

Related reads: (I got a LOT on this folks!)

Are you a Black parent? student? or educator? What is your experience in SFUSD public schools? What systems and policies should SFUSD put in place DISTRICT-WIDE to ensure each and every student, and especially Black girls feel valued and visible in their schools?

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