Study Finds Black Girls Are Treated With Indifference and Cruelty in Urban Classrooms

A new study by Ranita Ray, an associate professor of sociology, and Maxine Baca-Zinn, an endowed professor at the University of New Mexico, finds that Black and immigrant girls of color often face indifference and even cruelty in the classroom.

The authors studied one middle and one elementary school in a large metropolitan school district, following a cohort of 80 students from fourth through sixth grade inside classrooms, school corridors, and playgrounds. The majority of the faculty at these schools were White.

In the elementary and middle schools studied, Black and immigrant girls of color experienced gendered racial harassment, erasure of intellect, and estrangement within their communities. The authors conceptualized gendered racial harassment as bullying  ̶  defined as repeated emotional or physical violence contextualized by a power imbalance  ̶  of gender and racially oppressed people. This included the verbal abuse of Black and immigrant girls of color by teachers.

The erasure of intellect was defined as the overlooking of intellectual contributions made by girls of color, inside the classroom, because of their gender and race. Estrangement within their communities refers to how cleavages and divisions were created among girls of color through school practices such as academic tracking.

Dr. Ray stated that “for Black and recent immigrant girls of color the classroom is a psychologically traumatizing, alienating, and emotionally violent place where they face gendered-racial harassment from teachers, their intellectual contributions are erased, and they become estranged from their communities inside schools. Further, I found that immigrant girls are denigrated and simultaneously used to perpetuate harm on Black girls. Most importantly, the gains of some racially marginalized girls in school are used to justify hostility against all of them.”

“My position as a South Asian immigrant woman had implications for data collection and analyses,” Dr. Ray added. “Given that teachers were aware of my position as a brown immigrant, their remarks were likely tempered rather than exaggerated in my presence. As such, my findings are likely an attenuated version, and the classroom was perhaps a more hostile space for Black and recent immigrant girls of color in my absence.”

Dr. Ray joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico this year after teaching at the University of Nevada Las Vegas since 2013. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Presidency College in India. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Connecticut.

Related Articles

1 COMMENT

  1. I find that this treatment of teachers marginalizing girls in the very state where Dr. Ray taught was also prevalent, in the school when I sought a doctoral degree and was ostracized for writing “Dr,” after my name on the whiteboard in the classrooms. It does not end in the classroom, but extends to our positions in universities and colleges, which also penetrates erasure of intelligence, debases our character and is often targeted to your very being by negative comments from admin staff and the owners of private schools, whereby they rush to mention that they receive complaints about you from the parents.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Pew Research Center Provides Insight into Share of Black-Owned Businesses in the United States

Through analyzing data from the United States Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation, the Pew Research Center found that Black-owned businesses make up 3 percent of companies and earn 1 percent of gross revenue in the United States.

Martin Lemellle Appointed the Eleventh President of Grambling State University

Dr. Martin Lemelle has been serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Study Finds Elementary School Teachers More Likely to Discipline Black Boys than White Peers

“It is important to understand how race and racism shape children’s earliest school experiences,” wrote study author, Dr. Calvin Zimmerman. “Even for students as young as 6 years old, schools perpetuate existing social and educational inequalities.”

Johnnetta Betsch Cole Appointed President-In-Residence of the United Negro College Fund Capital Campaign

“With her immense expertise and passion for education, Dr. Cole will play a pivotal role in advancing the goals of our capital campaign and UNCF’s mission of ensuring equal access to higher education for underrepresented students of color,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund.

Featured Jobs