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Finding Justice–School Searches

This episode from the first season of the BET docu-series, Finding Justice (2019), focuses on the criminalization of black youth, specifically in schools. We are introduced to Marshée Doss, 17, who tells the story of being subject to a random school search in her Los Angeles high school by 8 police officers. The police claim that she fits a particular profile or “type.” We hear from activists, political strategists, civil rights attorneys, and teachers who speak about systemic bias and racism black children face in schools as well as the psychological repercussions. The producers also interview the Los Angeles City Attorney, who calls attention to the inequities deeply engrained in the school system, and is working  to address them despite formidable obstacles and opponents.

discussion

How does Doss see her experience as an example of criminalizing, targeting, or racial profiling? What assumptions do the police make about her that lead to that conclusion? Why do they call her a “type”?

Why do the producers use comparative statistics about the per student costs of education in relation to total expenditures on juvenile detention? How do they use other comparisons to critique the Los Angeles school system’s priorities and use of resources?

How do the activists argue that the potential of black students is not being realized? What images are used to highlight that potential? What are the consequences of not seeing this potential, according to the experts in the video?

Do you think a docu-series like Finding Justice can help to drive social and political change? If so, how? If not, why? What elements would be important to include in each episode to spur change?