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  • Writer's pictureEvita Ellis

Book: Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Fifteen-year-old Diamond stopped going to school the day she was expelled for lashing out at peers who constantly harassed and teased her for something everyone on the staff had missed: she was being trafficked for sex. After months on the run, she was arrested and sent to a detention center for violating a court order to attend school.

Just 16 percent of female students in the USA, Black girls make up more than one-third of all girls with a school-related arrest. The first book to tell these untold stories, Pushout exposes a world of confined potential and supports the growing movement to address the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures.

For four years Monique W. Morris, author of Black Stats, chronicled the experiences of black girls across America whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged—by teachers, administrators, and the justice system—and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish. Morris shows how, despite obstacles, stigmas, stereotypes, and despair, black girls still find ways to breathe remarkable dignity into their lives in classrooms, juvenile facilities, and beyond.

About The Author:

Monique W. Morris president and founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, condenses decades of experience into a diagnosis and a prescription for an educational system she identifies as failing black and brown girls . Pointing to the prevalence of police in schools and recounting incidents of mistreatment, she argues that “punitive learning environments... have emerged in response to the prevailing racialized gender bias that criminalizes girls of color”; as one school resource officer tells her, “they are often perceived as... violent. If a girl of color challenges authority, it is deemed unacceptable.” Morris skillfully argues that, instead, schools need to create a healing environment where young people are still held to account: she proposes in-school rather than outright suspensions, in rooms with homework stations and couches; “encouragement to engage in advocacy and activism as part of their healing process”; restorative justice practices; mentor-ship that empowers young women to change their lives; and systemic oversight of schools that protects students’ rights. She gives detailed examples of alternatives to the current system that she has seen firsthand, for example the older black hall monitors in one school, lovingly referred to as “the grandmothers,” who render police presence unnecessary. This is a carefully crafted, heartfelt, solution-oriented source for educators and policy makers. Agent: Marie Brown, Marie Brown Associates. (Aug.)


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