Time and time again, we display that we don’t consider the harsh reality of black children, including the black community. Specifically, black girls. And here’s why–Generally, black girls have a harsher reality than their white counterparts.
Let’s consider the response to the heart-wrenching docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly.” The six-part series delves into R. Kelly’s monstrous sexual abuse allegations with minors. The response has been extremely disheartening and helped me realize people don’t see black girls as children. That includes many of you in the black community. Chance the Rapper made an outrageous comment that he ignored the victims of R. Kelly because they were black women. The blatant truth that no one wants to hear. It’s easier than analyzing what other ways we fail black girls and where that line of thinking stems from. As a result, it forces the audience to look at their personal morality and the people’s morality around them.
WELL, WE WILL ANYWAY!
I guess we have to discuss where the inequality, in reality, stems from. Instead, we say things like the children are “fast.” So now we expect children not be manipulated by a grown man but men manipulate many of you all. They’re borrowing your car or taking money out your purse for gas. However, we put the responsibility on children to not be manipulated by grown men.
Stating that the girls are “fast,” keeps those stereotypes that black women are simply “promiscuous” or “exotic.” It subconsciously tells the victims that they are the reason for their tragedy.
Adultification: how we view black girls
We don’t hold men accountable for their actions. Instead, we blame young black girls for being naïve or “fast”, their children. This behavior later leads to people not speaking out. Who wants to speak up if they know they’re blamed?
Children are naïve. That’s a process described as adultification. According to “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood”, Adultification is a process that stems from social and/or cultural stereotypes based “on how adults perceive children ‘in the absence of knowledge of children’s behavior and verbalizations¹.” This means that we apply pressure and responsibilities to children with the belief that they can make adult decisions.
Sadly, within this study, we learn that:
beginning as early as 5 years of age,Black girls were more likely…viewed as behaving and seeming older than their stated age; more knowledgeable about adult topics, including sex; and more likely to take on adult roles and responsibilities than…expected for their age¹.
The average age that children begin their school, they’re already seen as adults. That was the most terrifying piece of knowledge that I received.
We cannot take away their innocent reality.
We take away their innocence at such a young age, it’s extremely devastating. The reason for this study is it explained:
The significance of this result lies in the potential for adultification to act as a contributing cause of the demonstrated harsher treatment of Black girls when compared to white girls of the same age. Simply put, if authorities in public systems view Black girls as less innocent, less needing of protection, and generally more like adults…[it seems] likely that they would also view Black girls as more culpable for their actions and, on that basis, punish them more harshly despite their status as children. Thus, adultification may serve as a contributing cause of the disproportionality in school discipline outcomes, harsher treatment by law enforcement, and the differentiated exercise of discretion by officials across the spectrum of the juvenile justice system¹.
All of these are things that uphold systematic racism and just shows when racism and sexism race together. Intersectionality, a concept we discussed here.
We have to do better by protecting these how we saw them. The Black Women’s Blueprint, “The Truth Commission on Black Women and Sexual Violence,” reported, “40-60% of black women report being subjected to coercive sexual contact by age 18².” That’s not a coincidence; we have to find problems to fix them. If you are blaming children for this terrible actions of an adult that’s “groomed” them, you need to look within and maybe pray. This grown man directs many of the victims from childhood. Also, to those of you saying something like why are we only talking about R. Kelly. What about when white men do it?
I don’t want anyone rape and I have a zero tolerance for it. I’m not attacking R. Kelly because of his race. On the other hand, as reported in the Public Safety records 92% of rape cases affecting black women are by black men in the state of Ohio³. Charity starts at home and to fix the greater issue, I have to first start with men directly affecting the futures of black girls around me.
- Epstein, Rebecca and Blake, Jamilia and González, Thalia, Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood (June 27, 2017).
- Black Women’s Blueprint: The Truth Commission on Black Women and Sexual Violence (2012).
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Report data (2009).