(BINGHAMTON – January 26, 2019) – Black girls aren’t safe. This week it was revealed that a school nurse and vice principal at Binghamton East Middle School strip searched four Black girls because they were acting “hyper and giddy” at lunch. School authorities used the joy of these Black girls to claim they were under the influence of drugs. Normal behavior for 12 year olds was used to justify traumatizing four Black girls, three of whom were forced to strip down to their underwear in front of adults. The fourth girl refused a search and was served with an in-school suspension instead.1
Black girls deserve to feel safe at school and not be violated for being joyful. There need to be immediate consequences for the school officials who stripped searched these four Black girls.
We know that racist and sexist assumptions about Black girls lead to the perception that they are less innocent than white girls.2 These warped views play directly into the criminalization and rampant sexual abuse of Black girls; perpetrators aren’t worried about suffering serious consequences because societal messages tell them Black girls are without protection. These assumptions play directly into the fact that Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended from school than their white counterparts and more likely to experience long-term, negative effects on their emotional and educational development.3 From the over-policing of Black girls’ hair, to strip searching them for exhibiting normal pre-teen behavior, the criminalization of Black girls must stop.4
At Color Of Change, we’re making the following demands of the Binghamton City School District:
This week, over 200 members of the Binghamton community packed the school board meeting and demanded answers. The school district’s statement offered a lukewarm apology, stating that the “actions have had the unintended consequences of making the students feel traumatized.”5 The incident is up for review, with no answers for the community of who will lead the review or how long it will take. The four Black girls, and the larger Binghamton community, deserve transparency and accountability. They deserve to feel safe in their school and not worry about being strip searched because they expressed excitement during their lunch hour.
Until justice is real …