Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Women's and Gender Studies

Advisor

Jean Halley

Committee Members

Elieen Liang

Dana-Ain-Davis

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Higher Education and Teaching | Humane Education | Indigenous Education | Prison Education and Reentry | Secondary Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development | Urban Education

Keywords

Black girlhood, Education, New York City, Behavior, Feminism, Colonialism

Abstract

The United States Department of Education’s mission statement is described as evolving to “Promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” A key piece of this statement is educational excellence and equality. The pathway to educational excellence and preparation is founded on public school students growing aware of their culture, identity, and history. My objective in this research is to discuss educators’ perceptions and misconceptions about Black and Brown children — especially Brown and Black girls—who attend public schools across the United States. Present-day research regarding school discipline policies and the “policing” of children focuses on the school-to-prison pipeline, acknowledges disheartening statistics on suspension and detention rates, and discusses the positive and negative effects of restorative justice. While each of these topics are noteworthy, they fail to consider the root causes of the misbehavior, that are socio-political issues in America. Early signs of misbehavior are labeled as insubordination and disrespectfulness. However , beyond the surface, misbehavior can also be an early sign of resistance to patriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism. Specifically, in the case of Black and Brown girls, misbehavior is an early sign of feminism present in urban classrooms. I consider the experiences of several young women who attend public schools across the United States and argue that children of color in the classroom are equipped with the tools to challenge these oppressive systems. The combination of quantitative and qualitative data presented in this thesis shows that although children of color are marginalized and oppressed by their racial and gender identity, there is beauty and authenticity if only we unpack the layers of their intersectional identities that are founded on their unique and valuable experiences.

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