In the wake of the killing of 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by Columbus police, Denison profs. Terrance Dean (Black Studies), Karen Powell Sears (Anthropology/Sociology) and Drexler James (Psychology) discuss the topic of why Black girls like Ma’Khia Bryant are judged as if they’re adults, in a Columbus Dispatch podcast.

The accompanying article notes:

Powell Sears attributes the cause of society’s treatment of Black girls to racist tropes that have been perpetuated since the slave trade.

Black girls are stereotyped as aggressive and threatening, with the result that the conflicts and struggles that all children go through are far too often met with responses involving discipline and violence.

Drexler discusses how racist theories alleging Black people are physically stronger, faster and larger than whites have also played a role in how society views Black girls, who are often treated as a force that must be brought under control. All the speakers refer to the term “adultification” — that Black girls who are still very much children are treated as grown-ups.

May 20, 2021