Becoming a victim of police brutality remains a top fear for three-quarters of Black girls and gender-expansive young people, according to a national survey released today by Justice & Joy National Collaborative, a gender and racial justice advocacy organization. The issue brief, Power In Our Truths: Girls & Gender Expansive Young People of Color Envisioning Futures Free From Police Violence, provides fresh insight into how girls and gender-expansive people of color aged 14-30 feel about the police. A virtual briefing will be on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET.
Despite a decline in justice-involved youth, the proportion of girls involved has increased over time, and data shows Black youth experience more violent interactions with police than their white peers. This contributes to a trauma culture as the country grapples with economic instability, public safety, and racial injustice since the pandemic and the prominent police-involved deaths of Ma’Khia Bryant, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. By 2050, 61% of youth under 18 will be non-white, underscoring the need to address police reform with a multiracial, gender-responsive, and youth-centered lens.
“We must stop the violence that causes harm, end the pushout and systemic criminalization of Black girls and other young people of color to ensure safety, end the school-to-prison nexus, and protect the mental health of young people,” said Dr. Jamelia N. Harris, Senior Director of Collaborative Research and Innovative Thought at Justice + Joy.
“I’ve consumed so many of these videos over a lifetime that, depending on my headspace of the day, it can range from numb to grief to anger,” shared a Black, 24-year-old survey participant from New York.
Key findings include:
- 75.4% of Black girls and gender-expansive survey participants fear becoming victims of police brutality.
“As a young Black woman, I’m in a constant state of fear which causes a heightened sense of awareness. I truly don’t feel safe anywhere. I also have younger siblings who I worry about constantly.” – 18, Black, She/Her, California.
- 67.6 % of survey participants do not trust police officers in general.
“It makes me lose faith in people knowing that this level of state-sanctioned violence is still
allowed to happen without solid repercussions for those committing these acts of violence.”- 22, AAPI, They/Them, Hawaii.
- 63.2% of survey participants do not feel safe when interacting with police.
“It also makes me scared because neither of my parents talks English well and they can understand it but very little, so what if the police who don’t know Spanish stop them and ask them for information but since my parents don’t understand, they make a certain hand movement or something, and the police attacks them because of a misunderstanding?” –17, Hispanic/Latinx/e, She/Her, Texas.
- Defund the police, legal accountability, and increased investment in social, community, and mental health infrastructure were common solutions proposed by survey participants.
“I think we need to defund the police and invest in better social infrastructure. We should have universal healthcare, easy access to mental health services and medication, stronger mental health interventions in schools, better funding for schools and harm reduction programs, as well as safe and free housing. I also believe that there needs to be a cultural shift in what justice and accountability means where it isn’t punitive.” – 28, Hispanic/Latinx/e, They/Them, Minnesota.
“Young people have a right to feel safe and live freely, but right now, they are caught in a trap created by violence, racism, and sexism,” said Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, president of Justice & Joy and former director of the National Girls Initiative – Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at U.S. Department of Justice. “Effective solutions stem from understanding and addressing the root causes of a problem. And that starts with respecting the wisdom of young people when they share their lived experiences and perspectives.”
RSVP for the Power In Our Truths issue briefing on November 8, 2023, here.
About Justice & Joy
Justice and Joy National Collaborative (Justice & Joy or J&J) is an intergenerational, gender, and racial justice advocacy and organizing nonprofit advancing social, economic, and political equity with and for girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color. Our goals are to achieve collective power to advance justice, establish affirming social narratives, and build ecosystems of support. We envision a world where all girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color can achieve their potential and live unapologetically liberated lives without fear of violence or injustice. www.justiceandjoynatl.org.
About Power In Our Truths
Power in Our Truths is a report series covering police violence, mental health, impact of COVID-19, policy actions and solutions. From July 1-September 1, 2023, Justice + Joy hosted focus group conversations with more than 400 girls and gender-expansive youth of color aged 14-30 in 28 states. Participating states include Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. The Power in Our Truth report series builds off of these conversations through a research survey. Read more about the Power in Our Truth report series here. The full Police Violence brief can be read here.