Capital B: The racism Black kids endure is spiraling Into a health crisis
UC expert says microaggressions can start as early as the age of six
Four Black students sued a Georgia school district in federal court earlier this year, saying teachers and administrators violated their civil rights by fostering “a longstanding and ongoing environment of racial discrimination.”
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Effingham County School District in southeast Georgia. The unnamed teenage plaintiffs allege that school officials ignored complaints of white students casually using racist slurs, and at times made Black students feel like troublemakers for reporting them. Capital B published a story on the health impact of racism on young blacks, citing several experts including Steven Kniffley, Jr., PsyD, senior associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at the UC College of Medicine.
Black kids, on average, experience their first microaggression by age 6, said Kniffley. Kniffley, who studies race-based trauma, says they’ll be exposed to microaggression multiple times a day as they grow up, which can look like exclusion from groups or being made fun of for their physical appearance like skin color or hair texture. An 18-year-old in Texas made national headlines after being suspended because his locs violated the school district’s dress code.
“It’s all leading to us hating ourselves and killing ourselves as part of the process,” he said. Kniffley worries about Black suicide rates. For Black boys, the stress is often around masculinity and messages that teach them to shrink themselves in order to avoid discrimination, like hunching over, talking softly to make others more comfortable, and navigating interactions with police officers.
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