Racism is a public health crisis and it is killing Black youth. Systemic racism
in education is a root cause of a long list of inequities faced by Black
youth. These inequities compound over the years and create extreme hurdles
to academic success and, in many cases, are hazardous to overall health.
The school-to-prison pipeline is a severe health equity issue affecting
Black children and adolescents. Racism is a core social determinant of health
that has a profound impact on child and adolescent health. Moreover, health
is not just an individual matter; institutional and structural forces influence
who has access to the opportunities and resources needed to thrive. The racial
inequities fueling the school-to-prison pipeline must be viewed through
a public health lens to identify leverage points for intervention.
A Gardener's Tale, a theoretical framework, presents racism’s effects on
three levels: institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized.1 This
framework presents an allegory about a gardener with two flower boxes and
illustrates the relationship between the three levels of racism and their impact
on health outcomes.2 This comment seeks to dissect the social and legal
inequities and racism embedded in America’s soil and the dangers of a Gardener
that is not concerned with equity.
Part I introduces racism as a social determinant of health and the resulting
health inequities as a pervasive public health crisis. Part II explores institutionalized
or structural racism nationally, followed by a discussion of
Personally Mediated Racism in Public Education that Perpetuate the Schoolto-
Prison Pipeline, specifically in Virginia, focusing on the combination of
resource starvation: physical and emotional and overly punitive disciplinary
systems. Part III outlines the theory of racial inequality and social integration
perpetuating the School-to-Prison Pipeline and creating A Public
Health Emergency for Black Youth. Part IV surveys the role of Internalized
Racism on Psychological Functioning and Risk Behaviors in Black Youth.
Lastly, Part V outlines some of the countless effective and evidence-based
Best Practices & Alternative Discipline Strategies
A Gardener's Tale: Confronting Racial Discrimination at the Intersection of the School-To-Prison Pipeline and Adolescent Health,
Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/pilr/vol24/iss3/7