Issues That Affect Black People Every Day
Every time a headline comes out about racism that starts with "new study says..." black people all over my social media share it with an eye roll emoji or three.
They usually accompany the post with something along the lines of "I've been saying this forever" or "this is old news."
This leads me to wonder how many studies have to come out that echo cries black people have already made for other races to be more proactive about addressing racism.
Here are five recent studies that are circulating that made black people say, "I could have told you that."
1. Study says: Black girls are twice as likely to be suspended in grade schools.
The National Women's Law Center (NWLC) conducted a study and found that black girls are are 5.5 times more likely to be suspended from school than white girls — for the same behavioral problems. Black girls are also 6.1 times more likely to be expelled from school, and 2.1 times more likely to expelled with zero educational resources while they are away.
Black women and girls have been speaking about the discrimination they experience in school settings for years. Many of us have complained to the very teachers who discriminate against us that they would never have the same reaction toward the other students in our class.
Earlier this year, the NWLC released a PSA that featured black girls talking about the treatment they receive at schools.
Black girls are being sent home for trivial and racist things like the texture of our hair. We are often accused of having an attitude problem for speaking up for ourselves. We have been physically violated by teachers and other school officials in classrooms.
Of course that translates into black girls receiving harsher discipline.
2. Study says: Uber is racist against black people.
The study confirms that if you have a name considered to be "black," then you are twice as likely to have your Uber trip cancelled than if your name is considered to be "white."
Soo... black people have been complaining about not being able to hail a cab for years before apps like Uber and Lyft even existed.
We also have to battle people mispronouncing our names, asking if they can give us nicknames and straight up making fun of our names as if it isn't fact that all names are made up, not just ours. And as if the world hasn't easily learned to let "Kardashian" roll around the tongue like apple Snapple.
With all of that in mind, it's no surprise that an app which allows you to see a photo of your passenger and learn their name prior to contact would have racist drivers.
3. Study says: Black women with natural hair get discriminated against.
Teen Vogue reported in February that the Perception Institute found "a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their hair." The people with the most bias? White women.
We live in a country where the word "nappy" is thrown about as an insult. Where black women have to remind people not to pet their natural hair like they are at a zoo. Where our legal system says it's OK to fire people who have dreadlocks.
We live in a country where straight hair has been worshipped since, well, forever.
4. Study says: White women are less likely to help a black woman when she is being sexually assaulted.
A study published in the "The Psychology of Women Quarterly" showed that the majority of white women wouldn't help a black woman if they knew she were about to be sexually assaulted. The authors, Christine Merrilees and Jennifer Katz of SUNY Geneseo said,
We found that although white students correctly perceived that Black women were at risk in a pre-assault situation, they tended not to feel as personally involved in the situation.
This is bad. Real bad. Joe Jackson.
It's also old.
Here is some truth that may be as sobering as this study: Black women have long stopped expecting white women to help us with much of anything.
From the 2016 election, to the pink pussy hats of the Women's March to cultural appropriation, many black women have grown to understand that intersectional feminism, however necessary and valid, is not ever going to be a reality for many white women.
5. Study says: White doctors believe black patients feel less pain.
In 2016, HuffPost reported a study conducted by Kelly Hoffman, a psychology PhD candidate at the University of Virginia. Her findings were that 40 percent of doctors in training believed black people feel less pain.
The study wasn't news to many black people, but rather confirmed some of the experiences we've already had, like being prescribed pain medicine at a rate of 22 percent less than white patients.
The distrust between much of the black community and the healthcare system has a long history. Going to the doctor as a black person often comes with the understanding that a physician you see may not be as gentle, compassionate, engaged or even honest with you —based on his or her intentional or unintentional prejudice.
The examples in history of doctors abusing black patients could fill up the rest of this post, but I'll offer two that tell it all:
The first is Henrietta Lacks.
She died of cervical cancer in 1951. When she passed, her doctors stole some tissue from her tumor without her family's consent or knowledge. After they discovered her cells could reproduce over and over even outside of her body, they used it for research in nearly every medical breakthrough you can rattle off (i.e. the polio vaccine, cancer, AIDs, etc.).
Everyone made money off of her contribution to modern medicine, but her family. You can read all about that in the book, "The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot.
Then there was the Tuskegee experiment.
Between 1932 and 1972, doctors allowed 399 black men to believe they were being treated for syphilis, just because they just wanted to see what untreated syphilis looked like. The men thought they were being cured, when really, they were infecting their wives and passing it on to their unborn kids (congenital syphilis).
So yeah, black people have long reserved a permanent side eye for doctors. History, experience and yes, that study on pain prejudice, show there is plenty of good reason.
Be clear: Science is great.
It's awesome that we even have scientists who care about race relations in this country.
Still, it's important to know that information in these surveys aren't a reflection of a new phenomenon.
Many of us are already talking about these issues on social media. The sentiments are usually reflected in hashtags that Black Twitter gets trending every other week. Or in the posts of those "angry black women," whose valid critiques get written off as social media rants.
White supremacy, racism, discrimination, culture appropriation — and all of the other buzz words that many hate — aren't things black people can compartmentalize into these online studies, then click out of when we're done reading.
If you're going to be moved by the oppression of black people, then be moved when the black people themselves talk about what they are going through in real time.
Because this is our real life -- study or not.