Twelve-Year Old Black Girls Were Allegedly Strip-Searched at a NY School: Can Black Girls Be Girls?

Twelve-Year Old Black Girls Were Allegedly Strip-Searched at a NY School: Can Black Girls Be Girls? January 26, 2019
Photo credit: Pixabay

Can Black girls be girls?

Can they just be?

School officials in Binghamton, New York thought the giddy and hyper behavior of four black girls* were enough to allegedly strip-search them for possible possession of drugs. While three girls were strip-searched, the fourth girl received in-school suspension for refusing to remove her shirt and pants.

As this story has gained broader attention, East Middle School seems to have shifted their response.

If giddy/giggling and hyper are now suspicious behaviors in a group of twelve-year old girls, what’s next? DEA stakeouts at Chuck E. Cheese?

Changing your song and dance as a school district about the matter seems more suspicious.

As this situation continues to unfold, I think it brings attention to the impact of racism and sexism on Black girls.

Again, I ask:

Can Black girls be girls?

Can they just be?

It can be a fight for Black girls and women to keep our souls.

Our bodies are our own. They belong to us.

Despite this truth, many Black girls and women keep striving to realize a fundamental right because people with racist and internalized racist beliefs think they are obligated and entitled to our mental, spiritual, and physical bodies.

Our nation often ignores the hatred that Black women receive about our bodies by those within our own communities and outside.

As Zora Neale Hurston stated,  “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

God, I wish she was wrong.

When Black women and girls choose to love ourselves, to stand for ourselves and each other, we are threatened, suspended, fired, shamed, and even killed.

Those who lay claim to our bodies and lives expect us to remain silent in our individual and collective trauma.

We are told to take the harassment and be quiet.

We are told to take assault and be quiet.

We are told to take off our clothes and be quiet.

I am thankful these girls spoke up to their parents. I can imagine young girls being so frightened and traumatized that they remain silent.

Some adults who are miserable with their own lives cannot stand to see Black people, let alone, Black girls with smiles on their faces.

How dare a black girl smile and have joy in her heart? How dare black girls enjoy each other in a space that seems to expect them to be miserable?

Apparently, it is a revolutionary act for a Black girl to choose be happy and human in this world.

To believe and support them might require another revolution.

Certain White people need to find another hobby or goal in life instead of their current choice of drinking cocktails of antebellum nostalgia, suburban delusion, and gentrified hot sauce to fuel their attempts to monitor and control Black people who mind our own business.

Get a life.

Get a grip.

Keep it off of Black girls.

Our nation’s widespread refusal to systematically and culturally deal with these issues beyond over simplistic attempts that focus more on protecting White feelings than real progress means that although Black women and girls are off the plantation, we still contend with the plantation mentality that permeates our social structure.

Such plantation mentality is evident in assumed entitlement to any part and place in a Black girl’s or woman’s life.

Plantation mentality is evident when people lack empathy for pain and trauma that Black girls and Black women endure.

It shows up when the tears we shed do not pull on the heart strings like a crying White girl or woman.

A person who feels nervous or suspicious upon seeing a group of happy Black girls needs to look within. The problem might be racial paranoia, bias, jealousy, and other issues that do not require Black girls being strip-searched for possible drug possession.

I wish I could look at these girls and tell them that they would never have to fight another day to retain self-dignity and self-worth as a girl or as a woman who is Black.

Right now, that would be a lie.

That needs to change.

*As this story has developed, one of the girls has been identified as Latinx.

"Perhaps the author will take some satisfaction in knowing that life expectancy rates in the ..."

Why Aren’t White Mothers Being Blamed ..."
"1986 was my 26th year as a police officer and remember those years a differently. ..."

Why Aren’t White Mothers Being Blamed ..."
"That’s not what the content of the article says. As someone above commented, the title ..."

Why Aren’t White Mothers Being Blamed ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Barros Serrano

    Yes, being hyper while black… a serious problem in this country.

    I am bothered by the systematic racism we see in the schools. I was a bilingual teacher in California and could write a long book about all the racism i witnessed directed against black and Mexican/Central American students.

    I’m white despite my Spanish online name. Once I’d kept four black 4th-grade boys in from recess for bad behavior in class, and we sat there talking, and one of them said, “You’re ok, Mr. Serrano, you’re not racist like the other white teachers.” “The other white teachers are racist?” I asked. “YEAH,” all 4 boys said in unison. One said, “They talk to us like we’re dirt. You talk to us like we’re human.”

    I’m still very troubled by that conversation, which occurred in 1993, in Watts, California. First, that 9-yr-olds were that aware that so many people disliked them for their ethnicity. And of course, that the racism exists in the first place. And that it damages those children!!!

    And nearly every day there is some other example of this pervasive inability of a significant % of white folks to see “the other” as human! Unarmed blacks shot by the Police, black children abused in school, the cops called on black people for existing… if I’m so sick of this, how must black people feel?

    I’m a child of the 60’s and am thoroughly exasperated that in 2019 this racism is still so pervasive. HOW can we get the country to have the “reconciliation” discussion which needs to occur. How can I contribute to it? Why can’t we end this mindless bigotry? I want to know. I want to do something and I don’t know what. It’s very sad.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Children can be aware of much more than adults care to realize or give them credit for. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Brandon Roberts

    if true this is complete bullshit, no kids should be strip searched.

  • Barros Serrano

    De nada… I could relate incidents I’ve experienced in the schools all day, but i don’t want to clog the blog.

    I really do feel that the racism in this country is what will destroy it, before the Russkis or Chinese or jihadis get a chance to. I live near Charlottesville and am looking for venues in which I can be productive, besides a bunch of liberals (I’m a Democrat, not dumping on the Left here) in a church talking to each other. We need to engage the wider community in productive ways. This is I think the greatest challenge facing us sane people these days.

  • Susan Granade

    The sight and sound of any human being crying should move our hearts in our breasts. When I see black women crying on the nightly news because they’ve lost a son or their house has burned down, I think, “This. On top of everything else.” Yes, black people’s tears have a special power.