Black Girls in Crisis – Diversity & School Discipline

COLUMBIA, SC - February 26, 2020 – The disturbing footage of an Orlando 6-year-old girl's school arrest inspires disgust, anger, and sadness for so many viewers; yet for Mona Elleithee, it inspires action.

Elleithee, who has spent the last twenty-five years serving as an award-winning diversity trainer and cultural competency coach for students and teachers around the country, believes that the only way to stop incidents like these from happening is to combat them proactively with education. She recently left her job as a behavioral interventionist at a Midlands school to launch Renewed Harmony LLC, an organization devoted to facilitating equity in schools.

Her training on the Adultification Bias of Black Girls invites participants to join in a courageous conversation about the criminalization of young African American girls. This training examines the research findings from a report entitled, “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood” conducted by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality. The research finds that a pervasive adultification bias exists among many who misperceive “Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than white girls of the same age, especially in the age range of 5–14.”


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This provocative session explores the painful implicit bias impacting African American girls and links this bias to the disparate suspension rates of black girls who are suspended 6x more than their white counterparts (Department of Education) along with the troubling suicide rates of black children of 2x higher than similarly-aged white children (CDC’s Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). Participants discuss the impact of adultification bias on Black girls and strategies for meeting their unique social-emotional needs. The session offers methods to transform school discipline and management strategies. Elleithee’s philosophy is simple, “We must first examine our beliefs before we can address our actions.’

Elleithee infused social justice curriculum in her English classroom for 16 years before working as a behavioral interventionist the last year and a half of her career. She initially left the classroom to support her colleagues. In her former role, she served as a classroom-management coach, working one-on-one with her peers to help them strategize ways to bring out the best behaviors from their students. She also led regular small group meetings of students with recurrent challenging behaviors. In addition to that work, Elleithee has served on the U.S. Department of Education’s Task Force for Global and Cultural Competencies and has been honored by the Pima County Attorney's Office as an Outstanding Race & Anti-Violence Trainer.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please email Mona Elleithee at mona@renewedharmony.com