A New Documentary and Community Initiative

Adultification: it’s a disturbing phenomenon that’s happening across the country – and with notable impact right here in the Pittsburgh region. Adultification is the perception that African American girls are more adult, more aggressive, more sexually aware and less in need of support and care than girls of the same age, but of different race. But it’s more than simply a problem of perception. Experts have linked adultification to disproportionate rates of classroom discipline, school suspension, and referrals to the juvenile justice system for Black girls which has a direct connection to the school-to-prison pipeline. What’s more, the racial disparity in juvenile justice referrals of Black girls is much higher in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County than school districts in 95 percent of similar cities.

Childhood Lost: The Adultification of African American Girls, is a thirty-minute documentary, that seeks to raise public awareness around this important issue. WQED explores the consequences of adultification, and introduces some of the people who are challenging systems, defying perceptions and working to give Black girls the support, compassion and equity they deserve.

In addition to the documentary, WQED is partnering with local community leaders to educate and further increase awareness, while celebrating the lives of African American girls living in the Pittsburgh region.

Web Extras

Black girls from our region share their hopes, dreams and perspectives on growing up and changing our world in a series of fun and candid conversations that help us learn more about the real lives of African American girls.

My Story: Adia, Barakat and Persaya

My Story: DaSheay, Blessing and Londynn

My Story: Harlyn, Tashay and Diamond

My Story: Emmanazia and Sierra

Community Partners

Fashion Africana logo

FashionAfricana, a leader in African-inspired art and aesthetics that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the African diaspora. Founder Demeatria Boccella, and a creative team that includes photographer George Lange and multi-media artist Gavin Benjamin will create a portrait exhibition featuring the faces of local Black girls. The exhibit will highlight their individuality in positive, age-appropriate portraits. The installation featuring this life-affirming work will be shared in a real time and virtual exhibition.

Amachi Pittsburgh serves children of incarcerated parents and understands the generational implications of imprisonment and related trauma. Amachi is serving as an advisor and convener of community conversation and engagement, by developing a virtual community forum that will go live after the documentary. Amachi will also provide educational materials that will foster meaningful dialogue as well as understanding of and action against the disparities that unfairly push African American girls into the legal system.

Our Media Partner:

Public Source logo

Public Source. The award-winning public media outlet launched its “I Am A Black Girl and…” project to explore the intersecting factors that impact the lives of Black girls and women in our region. Visit Public Source and discover an evolving collection of stories, videos and resources on their web-based platform.


Our Funders:

Major funding for Childhood Lost: The Adultification of African American Girls project initiative was provided by the Heinz Endowments.

The Heinz Endowments logo

Generous funding for Childhood Lost: The Adultification of African American Girls documentary was provided by UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital.

With additional funding from:

Learn More, Get Involved

FREE TO BE ME: A Portrait Series Celebrating Black Girls

The photo exhibit will be available to the public in the windows of the Pittsburgh Public Theater at 621 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh through Monday, November 30. Created by FashionAfricana, Gavin Benjamin and George Lange. Or, to view the exhibit online.

African American Girls: The Panel Discussion

Amachi Pittsburgh will host a virtual panel discussion on adultification and cultural bias, hosted by Executive Director Anna E. Hollis and featuring education and community leaders immediately following the documentary on Thursday November 19 at 8:30 p.m. Amachi is also providing educational outreach materials to increase awareness. To learn more, visit: and to register for the discussion, click here.

Host: Anna E. Hollis, Amachi Pittsburgh

Host: Anna E. Hollis, Amachi Pittsburgh

Panelist: Demeatria Boccella, FashionAfricana

Panelist: Demeatria Boccella, FashionAfricana

Panelist: Dr. Kathi Elliott, Gwens Girls and BGEA

Panelist: Dr. Kathi Elliott, Gwens Girls and BGEA

Panelist: Kristy Trautman, FISA Foundation

Panelist: Kristy Trautman, FISA Foundation

Panelist: Superintendent James Harris, Woodland Hills Schools

Panelist: Superintendent James Harris, Woodland Hills Schools

Watch More

African American Girls – The Photo Shoot
A behind-the-scenes look at the work of the creative team responsible for a photography exhibit celebrating African American girls from our region. The exhibit is part of the community initiative surrounding “Childhood Lost: The Adultification of African American Girls”