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Black ladies are additionally susceptible to police violence. Is somebody giving the lecture to you?

& # 39; I'm a child! & # 39;

In body cameras that capture the young girl in Rochester fighting with cops in the police car, one can hear a cop screaming, "You're acting like a kid!" to which the 9 year old girl replies: “Me am a child! "The officials' refusal to recognize them as such reflects a widespread trend.

According to a 2017 report Adults, published by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, consider black girls to be less innocent and more adult than their white peers, especially between the ages of 5 and 14. Participants in the study found black girls less dependent on care, protection, comfort, and support. Without the presumption of innocence and indulgence that children normally receive, black girls face tougher punishments and greater use of violence than white children. In fact, black girls are almost three times more likely to be referred to juvenile justice than their white peers, and 0.8 times less likely to have their cases diverted. In recent years, examples of the harsh and violent treatment of black girls have increasingly been captured on video. Last August a 6 year old black girl in Aurora, Colorado was arrested at gunpoint along with her mother, 17-year-old aunt and 12- and 14-year-old cousins ​​after the family was wrongly accused of stealing a car. In February 2020, a video of the 6-year-old Kaia role appeared be arrested at school just as she asked the police officer to give her a "second chance".

Although video evidence of these incidents is new, black girls in the United States have long been subjected to police violence.

For Monica Simpson, executive director of Sister Song, a national reproductive justice collective, what happened in Rochester reflects her own story from more than two decades ago. Simpson was 11 years old and growing up in the small rural county of Wingate, North Carolina, when police came to a car wash near their home and started molesting the young black men who normally hung out there. This harassment was extremely common, Simpson says, but that day some of the young men ran to escape and found their way onto Simpson's front porch, where she played with her younger sister and cousin. The police followed the men into their garden. What happened next triggers memories for Simpson to this day.

"I just remember seeing this cop, this white man, pull this thing out of his pocket and I didn't know if it was a gun, I didn't know what it was at the time, but it was pepper spray and He just sprayed it all over us, ”Simpson said. “I will never forget the smell, I will never forget the taste, I will never forget the feel of it in my eyes. We choked. It was terrible. It was absolutely terrible and then my sister was bitten by a police dog too. "

Simpson saw in Rochester history that officials were unwilling to see her again as a child.

“That got me to this story, and that got me to my own experience. When we were on that porch, we weren't even seen as young girls, ”Simpson said. "Our childhood, our youth – none of that was seen because we were now a threat."

The police speak

Despite the spread of stories like Simpson's, the issue of police brutality is still largely treated as an issue that only affects black boys and men. Even interventions like that # SayHerName campaign In order to raise awareness among the black women and girls who have been victims of police violence, they have often been co-opted, with the hashtag edited and instead applied to black men. One particularly harrowing example was The New YorkerCover story from June 2020 with the title "Say their names, “Telling the stories of a number of black victims of state or vigilant violence, the vast majority of whom were boys and men.

The lack of an in-depth discussion of black girls and women’s vulnerability to police violence has also influenced the way policing conversations take place at home and how black girls are socialized to understand themselves and their safety towards the police.

The role of “police interview” was given to Shannon Malone Gonzalez, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Texas-Austin when she was pregnant with her first daughter.

"I remember feeling really relieved because I remember not having to have this conversation and not having to worry about this conversation," Gonzalez said in an interview with Prism. “But then, almost immediately after that thought, the memory of my own experiences with the police, police sexual harassment and other forms of violence, and thinking about other people in my family – other black women in my family – was who this was also done by hostile experiences with the police. And so I remember thinking, “Well what would I say to my daughter? What are the conversations in our community about this police interview with black girls? "

These questions would help shape her current research, which addresses the gendered concept of vulnerability to police violence and the way black mothers are with their daughters in police conversation. In Gonzalez 'study, she spoke to black mothers of different class backgrounds about whether and how they talked about police violence with their young girls. Their results showed that black girls often did not understand the conversation directly. Instead, they received implicit police news through conversations their parents had with him guys in their families. In the cases where girls received the lecture for themselves, these conversations took place differently along the class lines.

Gonzalez found that working-class mothers were more likely to use what she called "predatory conversation" to educate girls about the threat of sexual violence by police and provide them with tools to prevent possible night or night abuse avoid alone. The risks are substantial. While data on police sexual misconduct is scarce due to survivors' fears of retaliation, existing research shows that it is a widespread problem. Compiled by a national database The Buffalo News Between 2005 and 2015, a law enforcement officer was involved in a case of sexual assault or misconduct at least every five days. ON 2010 study by the Cato Institute found that police sexual misconduct is the second most common crime reported by citizens after excessive use of force.

While it was customary, police sexual misconduct was less highlighted when middle-class mothers gave the lecture to their daughters. Gonzales found rather that they are more likely to get involved in the "conversation about seriousness". This iteration focuses more on minimizing the risk of potential violence by learning how girls can embody certain gender norms and behaviors.

"Protecting black girls is at the center of these two talks," said Gonzalez. "The way in which it functions and manifests itself depends on its material reality."

While these approaches are based on a shared desire to protect children, they can give young girls unrealistic expectations about the level of control they may have over their own police victimization. In this transfer of responsibility, the police interview also differs from the version given to young black boys.

"I think what happens in the end is that with black boys, the threat is seen as inevitable and the blame is placed on the cop and the state," Gonzalez said. “There is a notion with black girls that doing these things can protect you, and … what that means when we point the blame is really interesting. When we say she should be able to control these things based on how she is attracted to, where she goes, who she interacts with, then we say if she doesn't do these things and it happens then it's hers Fault. These are the implications. "

In addition, Gonzales noted that many police conversations were still focused solely on sons, and that even when discussing whether their daughters could be uniquely violent, the conversation often traced back to the way black boys and men were frequently addressed become.

"If we tell this one story of violence – the roadside encounter with the black man, the white cop, and the gun – what are the other stories of police violence that are left out?"

In particular, mothers often emphasized the importance of “coming home” after a police encounter and reminded the children that the main goal is to stay alive and that other problems could be corrected later. Gonzalez notes, however, that this framework implicitly focuses only on police fatality and does not recognize the types of violence black girls are often exposed to, such as: sexual assault and wrongdoing.

In addition, by focusing the conversation on the homecoming, it becomes clear that simply being home does not mean being safe from police violence.

“Historically, I think of Eleanor Bumpers in the Bronx, and then I think of Atatiana Jefferson or Breonna Taylor at the same time. The house is not a safe place against state violence, so I think it's very important to complicate the way we think about the place of state violence, ”said Gonzalez. In fact, the entire Rochester incident took place at the young girl's home after her mother, Elba Pope, called the police when her daughters were upset after an argument between the Pope and her husband. While police continue to make their way into black girls' homes as first responders for domestic disorders or mental illness, the conversation usually doesn't reflect that, Gonzalez explained.

"If we tell this one story about violence – the roadside encounter with the black man, the white cop and the gun – what are the other stories of police violence that are left out?" She said.

"Abolition will be the next logical step"

Although the police talk can never fully protect black teens, Gonzalez says that, at best, the talk would help legitimize young girls' feelings and fears about ubiquitous state violence.

“Conversation can provide a cultural framework for black girls to let them know that what happens to them when dealing with the police is not their fault, and it is missing. We see all of these videos of people holding their hands up and stopping – they don't protect them, ”Gonzales said. One version of the conversation that explored this reality let black girls know that “Your community and family view the problem as police violence, not your behavior, not your clothes, not your behavior like a lady or not. "

Ensuring that more girls get this version of the talk can also broaden the public's perception of what police violence is like and make the experiences of black girls more visible.

While a more expansive version of the talk can help legitimize black girls' experiences, Gonzalez ultimately doesn't see this as a long-term solution to the state violence black women and girls face.

"I think about all the stories of police violence I've heard and all the different ways they have occurred, and I don't know what kind of reform can fix that," Gonzalez said. "When I think of putting the well-being of the black women I've spoken to first, abolition becomes the next step for me in our overhaul of what it means for them to feel safe in their communities . "

Tamar Sarai Davis is Prismas' criminal justice reporter. Follow her on Twitter @bytamarsarai.

Prism is a nonprofit news agency run by BIPOC that puts the spotlight on the people, places and topics that our national media currently does not cover. Through our original reporting, analysis and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives that are immortalized by the mainstream press, and work to create a complete and accurate record of what is happening in our democracy. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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