BLACK VOICES
12/15/2014 05:07 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

How School Suspensions Disproportionately Target Black Girls

Last year, 12-year-old Mikia Hutchings was suspended from school. She spent her summer on probation, completed 16 hours of community service and faced potential criminal charges -- all for writing graffiti on the walls of a middle school bathroom.

Although a $100 restitution fee would have kept the young black girl from the slew of additional disciplinary actions, her family couldn’t afford it. In contrast, Hutchings' white friend, who defaced the bathroom walls, avoided further penalties after her parents paid the fee.

The actions taken against Hutchings' graffiti seem to be indicative of a larger problem. Between 2011 and 2012, 12 percent of African-American girls in public elementary and secondary schools were suspended, while just 2 percent of their white counterparts were suspended. According to the U.S. Department of Education report, black girls were suspended more than girls of any other racial group.

In a HuffPost Live conversation, freelance writer Kimberly Williams discussed how such disciplinary actions disproportionately target black girls.

“It’s a shame when you look at all of the different factors that play into it. There are a lot of socio-economic factors that play into it,” said Williams. “It’s one more thing that can prevent and hinder a group that has more milestones and obstacles to overcome.”

Unfortunately, conversations around race and gender often fail to include black girls, said Elizabeth Plank, an executive social editor at Mic.

“Women of color, especially young women of color, just fall through the cracks of these two conversations that we’re having in parallel, which is feminism, women’s rights and then race,” Plank told host Caroline Modarressay-Tehrani. “And I’m so glad that we’re talking about crime when it comes to young men and the way that we treat young men, but we need to talk about the way that we treat young women too.”

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