My Sister's Keeper: New Report Reveals Barriers to Black Girls' Success

by Shamecca Harris

With heightened national concern over the plight of black men following the tragic shooting death of Missouri teenager Michael Brown, a new report is drawing attention to the similarly unfortunate circumstances of young black women in this country.

The report issued last week by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and The National Women’s Law Center critically examines the educational and economic inequities that face black girls and women, releasing a host of statistics that reveal racial disparities in the academic achievement and economic outcomes of African-American female students. Titled “Unlocking Opportunity For African American Girls,” the report also highlights the historic and systemic barriers that have contributed to these gaps in black girls’ success and offers policy recommendations on how to address them. Check out some highlights from the report below.

  • 34 percent of African-American girls did not graduate high school on time in 2010, compared to 22 percent of all female students.

  • Black girls’ suspension rate is six times higher than their white female counterparts with 12 percent of African-American pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade female students receiving an out-of-school suspension during the 2011-2012 school year.

  • 43 percent of black women without a high school degree were living in poverty in 2013, compared to 28 percent of white women with the same levels of educational attainment. 

  • Black women make just 64 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and 82 cents for every dollar that their white female counterparts make.

While a presidential taskforce, My Brother’s Keeper, has been summoned to help young men of color transcend racial barriers to success, no such initiative has been created in the interest of young black women. A detail which, in light of these new findings, begs the question ‘What about our sisters?’

Still, President Obama insists he has and will not leave black girls behind, noting that his administration has been helping African-American girls in other ways.

“We’re not forgetting about the girls, by the way. I got two daughters—I don’t know if you noticed,” he said during a speech at the Congressional Black Caucus on Sunday (Sept. 28). “African-American girls are more likely than their white peers also to be suspended, incarcerated, physically harassed.”

“So in addition to the new efforts on My Brother’s Keeper,” he added. “ The White House Council for Women and Girls has for years been working on issues affecting women and girls of color, from violence against women, to pay equity, to access to health care.”

We certainly hope so. The future of a budding generation of black girls depends on it.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Shamecca Harris is New York based writer and lifestyle journalist with a particular interest in style and entertainment. She has a BA in English from Georgetown University and has written  for both print and online publications including XXL Magazine, Global Grind, and The Huffington Post. For updates and tidbits on all things Shamecca, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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