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When she was singled out during the fire drill for talking, while many of her classmates were doing the same, she just felt embarrassed. It was later that she wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that she is a Black student in a majority-White school. (Photo by Njaimeh Njie/PublicSource)

Amariah Woodson, age 14, Shadyside in Pittsburgh

I’m sitting quietly on the gymnasium floor next to my friend. All of us, kindergarten through eighth graders, had just been ushered out of our classrooms at Sacred Heart Elementary for an emergency evacuation drill. Our gym is in a different building than our regular classes. Once the students were settled, they all started talking.

My friend turns to me and starts telling me how another kid told him he was “deaf as a bat” earlier that day. He hadn’t heard that before and thought it was pretty funny. I usually try not to get into too much trouble, and I know how upset teachers can get when we talk during emergency drills. Then again, everyone else around me was talking, and nobody has corrected them. I decided that it was OK to talk, as long as I wasn’t too loud. I turn to my friend and continue the conversation, laughing with him.

After a few minutes, a teacher from across the gym notices us — or me specifically. She is heading toward us across the gym, looking at me the entire time. I don’t think she even knows my name.




A Special Project

prison gates
We hear about girls and women bumping into the glass ceiling. We hear about systemic disadvantages faced by the Black community. But what if you represent both? You are a Black woman. Then, let’s throw in that you are a minor; adults think you don’t know any better.

This project is exploring the intersecting identities of Black girls in the Pittsburgh region. It serves as a platform for the girls to tell their stories about how they feel they are perceived and treated, what their hopes and fears are and what they think would better their lives.

This is just the beginning. We will continue to add personal stories produced by black girls and in-depth pieces by our journalists in the coming weeks and months. You can support this project. Visit our GoFundMe page to help us foster the next generation of Black female journalists in Pittsburgh. And please share the project with your network of friends and colleagues!



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