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