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Kiera Wilmot is a 16 year old black girl who attends high school in Florida. While at school (not during school hours) she engaged in an extracurricular chemistry experiment that produces a small explosion and some smoke. No one was injured and no property was damaged. She was expelled from school and will now have to attend an expulsion program. She was also arrested and charged with two felonies ("discharging a weapon on school grounds").

Rocket Boys: A Memoir is a book about some white teenage boys in a coalmining town in the late 1950s. They build and test rockets. Their first attempts cause property damage, but many of the adults they know help them. They win a science fair. The author and protagonist of Rocket Boys became a NASA engineer. The book, according to Wikipedia, "is studied in many American and international school systems."

Wikipedia claims: "According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009. According to the 2010 census of the US Census Bureau blacks (including Hispanic blacks) comprised 13.6% of the US population."

http://www.change.org/petitions/polk-county-school-district-don-t-expel-kiera-wilmot

https://www.change.org/petitions/polk-county-state-s-attorney-drop-felony-charges-against-16-year-old-kiera-wilmot

http://raniakhalek.com/2013/05/02/prosecutor-behind-kiera-wilmot-arrest-filed-no-charges-for-white-teen-who-killed-little-brother/

http://www.policymic.com/articles/39061/kiera-wilmot-arrest-racial-inequality-arises-from-a-science-project-gone-wrong

"Would a White Girl Be Prosecuted for a Botched Science Experiment?">

http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/the-case-around-fla-teen-kiera-wilmot-is-part-of-a-bigger-more-disturbing-pattern/

"Kiera Wilmot's School Expulsion Is Racist"

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/education/black-students-face-more-harsh-discipline-data-shows.html (This one is not specifically about Kiera Wilmot, it's from 2012.)

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/urban-scientist/2013/05/01/florida-teen-charged-with-felony-for-trying-science/ "I can’t name a single scientist or engineer, who hadn’t blown up, ripped apart, disassembled something at home or otherwise cause a big ruckus at school all in the name of curiosity, myself included." --DNLee, a biologist and animal behaviorist (one of a few black women who didn't manage to get the science harrassed out of them).

http://www.policymic.com/articles/39381/kiera-wilmot-how-her-arrest-and-expulsion-exposes-americas-racial-discipline-gap

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/809808.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments. I prefer that you comment on Dreamwidth, but it's also OK to comment here.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
sabotabby
May. 2nd, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
This is horrible! The kid deserves a stern lecture about lab safety, coupled with tons of encouragement for her obvious intelligence and enthusiasm for science, not to have her whole life destroyed.
firecat
May. 2nd, 2013 11:36 pm (UTC)
That's what I think too.
sabotabby
May. 3rd, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
Speaking as an educator (albeit not a science teacher), my immediate reaction is, "hey awesome, a young girl who's interested in STEM—a young black girl, at that. Better encourage the hell out of that because every other part of our sexist, racist society is going to steer her away and tell her she's not good enough, and then handwring about why there are so few women in STEM fields." I can't fathom any educator thinking differently.
firecat
May. 3rd, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
YES EXACTLY.
graymalkin13
May. 3rd, 2013 11:28 am (UTC)
I agree.
hitchhiker
May. 3rd, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
yeah :( my first thought was "this is the black=troublemaker thing coming into play, isn't it"
firecat
May. 3rd, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
:(
hitchhiker
May. 3rd, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
i'm also a bit disappointed that a lot of people (rightly) up in arms over the increasing intolerance for students are ignoring that other elephant in the room.
firecat
May. 3rd, 2013 02:27 am (UTC)
Right.
nancylebov
May. 3rd, 2013 04:05 am (UTC)
I've signed the petition to drop the felony charges-- when I saw the link title, I thought it meant they'd already been dropped.
firecat
May. 3rd, 2013 06:05 am (UTC)
You're not the only one who misread it.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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