Study reveals council is failing Black girls who brand schools as ‘racist, boring and sexist’

A groundbreaking pilot report has found that a borough is failing young black girls.

See Us, Hear Us: On Growing Up and Girlhood in Lambeth is a report that has looked at the social, political and institutional environments that impact the lives of black girls in the borough. 

The research, funded by London’s Violence Reduction Unit, was co-authored by Sofia Akel, 28, and Ebinehita Iyere, 30.

The pilot study looked at several research areas: community, schooling and mental health.

Throughout the findings, the black girls who took part revealed their encounters with racist stereotypes.

The respondents, who at the time of the research were aged between 12 and 18, were all from the borough of Lambeth and black.

One 17-year-old, Aaliyah Bailey, said: “Behind every young boy is a bunch of mums, sisters, aunties and friends trying to keep him off the streets. 

“This is built so deep into our community and society that women are just the armour that protects our boys.” 

A majority of the girls surveyed ranked their school experience below a five, indicating that it is “horrible” and branding their schools as “racist,” “boring,” “sexist,” “unfair,”  and “stressful.”

A majority also said they felt “silenced and stereotyped.”

A participant said that black girls often only found refuge in fast-food restaurants such as KFC or McDonald’s.

The study’s authors said it showed that there was an urgent need for a deeper understanding of the experiences of black girls and the issues that impact them.

Within the past decade, Lambeth has cut 64 per cent of its youth service funding, and across London as a whole more than 600 youth worker jobs have been axed, which has left young people particularly vulnerable.

Sofia Akel wrote: “Without targeted funding, those who are most vulnerable are effectively abandoned by the state, meaning that the burden of care can disproportionately fall to those who care for their community, but ultimately lack the resources to create sustainable change and long-term solutions.”

Lambeth councillor Dr Mahamed Hashi, cabinet member for safer communities, said: “I have read this research, and I thank the young women who have taken part in it, including Ebinehita Iyere.

“They have shared valuable insights and experience of the council, the police, the NHS and other public services in their borough. There is learning here for us, and our public sector partners.

“We are keen to work with community members who can feed in their real life experiences to develop solutions. 

“This is an ongoing effort. For example our work around street safety and to tackle violence against women and girls has been produced in partnership with community representatives.

“Our ‘Look out for Lambeth’ campaign public information campaign seeks to change men’s behaviour in relation to on street harassment.

“This has been reinforced with trained new council staff who are experts in both spotting and preventing violence against women and girls.”

Pictured top: From left,  Sofia Akel and Ebinehita Iyere (Picture: Sofia Akel, Milk Honey Bees)

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