Featured Speakers include a roundtable of young Black women college students and recent graduates speaking about the social and economic challenges that they continue to face, even with degrees.

Moderated by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Executive Director of AAPF

With remarks from higher education researcher Dr. Constance Iloh

The fact that Black women are slightly overrepresented in 2-year college enrollment--making up 15 percent of female high school graduates but 16 percent of female enrollees--has led to the common interpretation that Black women and girls are doing well, and thus do not need the same targeted support as their male peers.

Yet making it to college--while critically important--does not mean that Black women and girls have surmounted every obstacle in their paths. Institutional barriers to their success continue to stymie Black women during and after college graduation.

Black women are less likely to be enrolled in 4-year programs, comprising only 13 percent of all females enrolled. Their college completion rates are also lower than other group of young women. These disparities have a deep impact on Black women's lifelong social and economic well being. The significance of attaining a bachelors degree is huge -- Black women can expect to earn $657,000 more over her lifetime than if she had not gotten a 4-year degree. 43 percent of Black women over age 25 without a high school diploma live in poverty, as compared to 29 percent who have a high school diploma and 9 percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

However, while college completion is a predictor of future earnings, women over all make less than men, and black women make less than white women among full-time, year-round workers at almost every education level. In 2013 an African-American woman with an associate degree was less likely to be employed than a white man with less than a high-school diploma. Black women, including those who are college-educated, have made the least significant gains of any group during the national economic recovery. On average, Black women earn 64 cents for every dollar a white man makes, and 82 cents for every dollar a white woman earns.

Watch our conversation below with young Black women in higher education as we elevate various issues related to Black women’s educational attainment and push back on the narrative that Black women’s enrollment in college makes them immune to broader systems of societal inequality.

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Building the Capacity to Create Change

Join AAPF in elevating the crisis facing Black women! Contact us if you would like to partner on any of the following:

  • Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.

  • Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.

  • Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.

Share Online:

  • Share your #BlackGirlsMatter story online. What barriers did you face in schools? What do people say on campus that makes you feel you don’t belong?

Transformative Conversations:

  • Talk with a friend about the last three conversations you had about instances of racial injustice. How many of these conversations centered around men? How many around women? Reflect upon your responses.

Surveying the Landscape:

  • List the leading social advocacy organizations for Black people on your campus and in your community. How many are led by Black women?  

Reflecting on Your Own Story:

  • Read this definition of microaggression. Count how many you experience...In one of your college classes?...On campus each day?...In a student group meeting?  Do this exercise with a friend and reflect upon your experience. What surprised you? What can be done about it?

Creating Public Will:

  • Download the Black Girls Matter toolkit. Gather your friends, family, community group or church to discuss the report and the educational landscape for Black girls in your community. What can you do together to improve the educational conditions facing all Black youth?

Preparing Yourself to be an Advocate:

  • In your community, how many programs are available exclusively to boys? How many are available exclusively to girls? Reflect upon the dwindling resources available for inclusive racial justice and what can be done to change this in your community.