By Kumari Ghafoor-Davis
MOBB United recently connected with Dr. Rosemarie Allen, an Associate Professor at Metropolitan State University. Dr. Allen asked our moms to review and participate in a survey (open to all races) that she and her colleagues (Dr. Vinh and Dr. Strain) are conducting to complete their “Early Childhood Suspension Study”.
Within the study, the researchers are trying to learn how moms of Black sons and daughters feel their children are being treated in schools. They want to know if they feel their children are punished more harshly and given less consideration than their non-Black peers. With MOBB United moms, they are particularly interested in the experiences of our boys, which is why it is CRITICAL that EVERY mom with a young Black boy participate in the survey.
There has been much research and many articles have been written confirming the disparities in the disciplining of Black students and White students. A 2012 New York Times article titled, Black Students Face More Discipline, described the problem. There also has been case after case showing how our children are treated differently by school officials and law enforcement. Such cases include the 2016 story of a 6-year-old in Milledgeville, Georgia who was arrested for throwing a temper tantrum, and the 2015 story of a high school football player with hopes of one day playing in the NFL, who was accused of rape when he was 16, tried as an adult, and sentenced to 5 years in jail plus 5 years parole for being a sex offender.
Both of these cases bear direct similarity to nationally known cases of White children who were accused of the same type of behaviors but were treated much more leniently. For example, a White 10-year-old was suspended for a week for bringing a knife arsenal to school in Iowa; and Brock Turner, the White Stanford swimmer who was accused of raping an unconscious female classmate, received a 6-month sentence but only served 3 months of that sentence because the judge did not want to interrupt his education or his swimming career.
Dr. Allen’s study of early childhood suspension is such an important and needed tool right now in a very volatile world. It can be used to raise awareness of how our children are treated in schools and how the school-to-prison pipeline is extremely prevalent in our communities from as early as preschool/kindergarten all the way through high school and into college. The more aware we are of the disparities, the better we can voice our dissatisfaction about how our children are treated by school officials and law enforcement, and the more effectively we can advocate on their behalf.
If you are a mom or if you know of a mom with a young Black boy in 1st grade or younger, please take the survey or tell friends where they can find it at mobbunited.org/page/research. With this information in hand, we can empower ourselves, our children, and other moms to ensure that we all know the rights of students and parents and are equipped to handle situations that may arise in school.