Janelle Woods Credit: photo courtesy of Black Mothers Forum

We live in a nation where a Black high school student in Texas got suspended from school last fall because of the length of his locs — where in 2020, police in Florida arrested and handcuffed a Black 6-year-old girl for throwing a tantrum. And in California, a 9-year-old Black girl was suspended while learning over Zoom for sending too many messages in the chat. Suspensions of Black students are so out of control in California that a state senator recently introduced a bill to prohibit suspensions for K-5 students for “willful defiance.”

Things aren’t much better in Arizona, where Janelle Wood, founder and CEO of Black Mothers Forum, lives. That’s why Wood is hard at work to put an end to the mistreatment of Black children in schools. Her Arizona-based social services organization provides a space for Black mothers to congregate, discuss, and create solutions that directly impact the in-school experiences of students across the state. 

“You tell the people, this is what the data says, and this is what we want you to do about it. We learned how to start to speak that,” Wood tells Word In Black.

A 2022 analysis by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting found that “Black students made up 6 percent of the total enrollment across all 20 districts but received 15 percent of suspensions.” 

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Aziah Siid

Word in Black!

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