What happened at Spring Valley High School is part of a larger problem
We who believe in freedom cannot rest. We who believe in freedom can not rest until it’s won. Until the killing of Black girls, Black mothers and daughters is as important as the killing of white girls, white mothers and daughters.
We at Power U are outraged by the recent video showing a Black young woman being pulled out of her school desk, dragged across the floor, and roughed up by a police officer in Columbia, SC.
This is an absolute abuse of power. This is child abuse. But as disgusting as this is, unfortunately it is an all too common experience for Black youth across this country. Time and time again we see cases of our young people’s human rights being violated in the one place above all others they should feel safe, in their schools.
We know that what happened in South Carolina is not an isolated event. Certainly this officer should be fired and charged with child abuse. However, this is not just about one police officer or any number of “bad apples.” This problem is systemic. To get at the root of this injustice we must examine the institutions of policing and schooling themselves.
In Miami we are all too familiar with the crisis facing black girls and young women. In our schools, Black girls are six times more likely than their white peers to be suspended. An overwhelming amount of research demonstrates that the hammer of punitive discipline largely targets Black students. In this context of structural racism, it’s no wonder we get the type of horrendous incidents depicted in the video above.
Police have no place in our learning environments. Arrests, expulsions, and suspensions are not appropriate ways to deal with issues of student conduct. If school districts are serious about addressing the school to prison pipeline, we must stop putting money into school police. Instead, we must reinvest resources in social workers, counselors, and restorative justice. We must dig deep and imagine something entirely different, liberatory solutions for our young people and communities.
- Ruth Jeannoel, Lead Organizer of Power U Center for Social Change