Breaking the Silence for Women and Girls of Color

There are programs for black young boys and men who need help. These programs are closing their doors on young women and girls of color. It has been said that women and girls of color just don’t need help. This notion comes from stereotypes that black girls and women don’t need anyone because we got everything together. We are perfect. WRONG! Women and girls of color need just about the same amount of help as boys and men need, if not more. We go through rape, abuse by family and partners, criminalize in classrooms, incarcerated, and so much more. On Monday April 20th, I attended hearing on girls of color, and this is what I had to say:

“In the same ways black men and boys need help, black women and girls need help as well. There were times that I felt alone. I felt that no one wanted to help me. I was placed in special education classes with other students that had all kinds of problems such as behavioral and mental problems. I wasn’t learning anything. These classes taught the same things that I had learned from previous years. I can recall a time that me and some of the other students got together and begged to learn new things. One of the things that we wanted to learn more than anything was Algebra. Our teacher would make promises to help us learn basic Algebra. For two years we sat in that special educational class, and did not one math problem. I felt dumb. I started to go to school only twice a week, and after my mother died I gave up completely on school. I was only 15 in the 10th grade.

I entered foster care soon after, and they forced me to go back to school. It was hard, but with tutoring and other resources provided by the foster care system, I was able to go back to school, graduate.  Now I am in my junior year at Trinity Washington University. Foster care wasn’t always great; in fact, I think that it needs major improvements. However they helped me get back in school, and for that I thank them. But why is it that I had to go through the foster care system in order to succeed in school? I’m still not good at it, but I was able to pass pre-algebra, algebra, finite algebra, and statistics with As and Bs in my first and second year of college. I find it sad that I was able to get a 100% on my first finite algebra test, but Fs in high school. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. I was even told that I wouldn’t graduate from high school, and if I did, going to college would be nothing but a dream that would never come true. And yet, through the grace of God, and help from the system, I have made it this far.

To explain the conditions of the DC public schools, I have written a poem called Resource Denied.

My teacher says our homework is on page 62
But we have no books to take home
So what am I to do?

Resource Denied

Our class work is on the computer and we are to have it done by one
But there’s only three computers per 25 students
How can I get work done?

Resource Denied

I’m having problems with math
There’s no tutors, and teachers aren’t available after 3:45
If I fail, I’m afraid other students will laugh

Resource Denied

Today I had a meeting with my mother, teachers, and principal.
The principal says, “You don’t turn in homework, you don’t complete class assignments, and you’re failing math. What do you have to say?

I looked at my mother, then at my teachers, then turned to my principal and simply replied:

“Resource Denied”

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