In Cleveland, Black Women and girls are discouraged, policed, disciplined, belittled, manipulated, and encouraged to think small and aim low. Obstacles are purposely placed - educational gaslighting, discriminatory policies, and intentional deprival of academic resources prevent Black women from achieving professional success. Across our community, Black Women shared their educational journeys with us.
From preschool to post-graduate, Black Women identified repetitive patterns of implicit and explicit marginalization effectuated through both standardized community and education policy and interpersonal practice as well as individual bigotry and bias.
For many Black Women in Cleveland, pursuing educational goals is a matter of navigating a minefield full of hidden traps and novel methods of marginalization.
Steering + Discouragement
Project Noir participants experienced a general theme of being purposefully and/or inadvertently "steered" and discouraged from pursuing desired career trajectories by professionals meant to guide them.
48% of survey participants had been specifically discouraged from S.T.E.M. classes that were imperative to completing their career goals. Intentional discouragement and purposeful steering can take weeks to years to detect, later leading to the development of imposter syndrome and confusion for many Black Women.
Many Project Noir participants expressed frustration with their grades and grading systems. Among participants, we noted patterns of lower grading compared to colleagues and classmates, added criticism and negative feedback from educators, and frequent penalties with inventive and insidious weapons outside of grading.
47% of our survey participants were even subjected to comments and punishments for how they dress and style their hair.
Information + Opportunity
There is a concerning gap between what is seen as publicly available information and what is actually available for Black Women.
For Project Noir survey participants, job leads, available credentials, social connections, and other unofficial networks of support were less accessible.