A recent article from the Capital Times
explores a program providing support for African American girls at Hawthorne Elementary School that is called Circles of Support.
Ashley Lauren Smith, a Ph.D student with the School of Education's Department of Educational Policy Studies
, co-facilitates the fourth grade girls' group in the program. Smith's research focuses on African American girls and school discipline.
The Capital Times report explains how too often, the intersection of race and gender gets overlooked in dialogues about how to support African American youth, leaving black girls out of the conversation. The Circles of Support program provides a place for black girls to "build relationships and bolster socio-emotional development."
Once a week, students will meet in a small group to discuss topics of their choosing, such as their home lives or stereotypes about African American women. Black women from the school and community also often help to facilitate the groups to promote intergenerational relationships.
On how black girls and boys are both affected by racial disparities, Smith told the Capital Times, “How can we support both groups? We are an intersectional community, and if we don’t accept every human being or humanize the experience of every black person, we won’t really go anywhere."
Although Smith has only been working with Circles of Support for one semester, she said that she has already seen the girls grow.