The phrase “black is beautiful” is said to boost confidence and esteem among the African-American community, but it can have a much stronger impact! A new research study has found that positive racial identity can act as a protective factor in school, increasing academic performance.
What does this mean?
Dr. Sheretta Butler-Barnes of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri led a research study of over 700 black girls in middle-school and high-school. She found that when these young women felt confident about their racial identity and felt connected to their schools, they were more “academically curious and persistent in school”. Not only do we have to work to make schools more inclusive, but we have to show young girls of color their beauty, value, and worth in society. As Polished Pebbles has been saying since 2009, young girls of color are just as much in need of interventions and programs as young boys of color.
What are the implications and what can we do with this information?
Hopefully the results of this study will encourage more research on the topic of racial identity, school inclusiveness, and academic performance for girls of color. The more we know, the better prepared and effective our interventions can be! This also brings to attention the importance of positive role models for these young girls. Black and brown girls need to see women who look like them in positions of power, in successful careers, on TV and movie screens playing the heroine, and in academia.
If you work in a mentoring program, run a program, or hope to develop one, this information can be used to improve your programming. Include activities that connect girls of color to their heritage and skin. Have conversations about racial identity, confidence, and beauty. Encourage the girls in your program to look beyond mainstream media to find their own role models.
Together we can raise up our girls!