Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to join a round table discussion during the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s 40th Anniversary Scholar & Feminist Conference. Grounded in the theme Action on Education, the space compelled “scholars, activists, educators, and artists to explore the K-12 landscape and higher education, investigating who can attain post-secondary education, under what circumstances, and at what cost.”
Moderated by our brilliant friend, Dr. Tami Navarro, Associate Director of BCRW, we shared the origins and methodology of our work and engaged in a discussion about expanding spaces of knowledge beyond the classroom. Our work was thoughtfully placed in conversation with Dr. Lalaie Ameeriar’s focus on trade schools and apprenticeship programs in Canada and Dr. Jaz Choi’s research on humanistic approaches to design as well as youth social entrepreneurship in networked urban environments around the world. While our corners of the world seemed unrelated at a glance, our discussion made it clear that multiple spaces of learning are integral in the face of inhumane treatment and distorted representations of women of color.
Our time with this roundtable was phenomenal. But the moment of the conference that marked us most was the invaluable presentation Girls Behind Bars: Black Girls and the School-to-Prison Pipeline led by the Black Youth Project 100. BYP 100 took the stage and systematically walked through the pervasive trauma Black girls continue to face in the education system. The combined authority and vulnerability in how they took hold of the room, created a powerful image that is hard to capture in words. The African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies’ report Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected are not just words on a page.
Our thanks to the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) at Columbia University for working to create a space that included the nuanced voices of black people. Deep gratitude to Dr. Tami Navarro for the invitation, you are a beloved champion in our Beautiful Community.