“PUSHOUT” is a powerful exploration of the harsh and harmful experiences confronting Black girls in schools.
In a work that Lisa Delpit calls “imperative reading,” Monique W. Morris (Black Stats, Too Beautiful for Words) chronicles the experiences of Black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood. They are highly judged—by teachers, administrators, and the justice system. They are degraded by the very institutions in charge with helping them flourish. Called “compelling” and “thought-provoking” by Kirkus Reviews, PUSHOUT exposes a world of confined potential and supports the rising movement to challenge the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures.
A book “for everyone who cares about children” (Washington Post), illuminates critical issues at a moment when Black girls are the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system. Praised by voices as wide-ranging as Gloria Steinem and Roland Martin, and highlighted for the audiences of Elle and Jet right alongside those of EdWeek and the Leonard Lopate Show, PUSHOUT is a book that “will stay with you long after you turn the final page” (Bookish).
Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues reimagines what education might look like if schools placed the thriving of Black and Brown girls at their center. Morris brings together research and real life in this chorus of interviews, case studies, and the testimonies of remarkable people who work successfully with girls of color. The result is this radiant manifesto—a guide to moving away from punishment, trauma, and discrimination toward safety, justice, and genuine community in our schools.
In the tradition of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and Other People’s Children, Morris’s new book is a clarion call—for educators, parents, students, and anyone who has a stake in a better tomorrow—to transform schools into places where learning and collective healing can flourish.
Wise Black women have known for centuries that the blues have been a platform for truth-telling, an underground musical railroad to survival, and an essential form of resistance, healing, and learning. In her highly anticipated follow-up to the widely acclaimed Pushout, now a core text for teachers and principals on the criminalization of Black girls in schools, leading advocate Monique W. Morris invokes the spirit of the blues to articulate a radically healing and empowering pedagogy for Black and Brown girls.
About the Author
Monique W. Morris, Ed.D. is an award-winning author and social justice scholar with three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, juvenile and social justice. She is the Founder and President of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI), an organization that works to interrupt school-to-confinement pathways for girls, reduce the barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated women, and increase the capacity of organizations working to reduce sexual assault and domestic violence in African American communities
Praise for Monique Morris:
“Monique Morris is a fearless and brilliant intellectual. Her groundbreaking work illuminates the pernicious challenges at the intersection of race and gender for African American girls in our education and criminal justice systems, and speaks directly and powerfully into the current moment.”
—Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and author of On the Courthouse Lawn
Praise for Pushout:
“Pushout is for everyone who cares about children, especially teachers, school administrators and policymakers, whose decisions – big and small – shape how black girls learn and live.”
“The personal stories at the heart of the author’s discussion create a compelling study that puts a human face on both suffering and statistics…Morris’ book offers both educators and those interested in social justice issues an excellent starting point for much-needed change. A powerful and thought-provoking book of social science.”
“Morris’s work, buttressed by appalling statistics and scholarly studies, is supplemented by two useful appendices…and a list of community resources.”
“A thoughtful appendix offers numerous questions and answers for girls and young women, parents, the community, and educators. Timely and important.”
“A powerful indictment of the cultural beliefs, policies, and practices that criminalize and dehumanize Black girls in America, coupled with thoughtful analysis and critique of the justice work that must be done at the intersection of race and gender.”
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
“If you ever doubted that Supremacy Crimes—those devoted to maintaining hierarchy—are rooted in both sex and race, read Pushout. Monique Morris tells us exactly how schools are crushing the spirit and talent that this country needs.”
“This book is imperative reading, not only for educators and those in the justice system but—perhaps especially—for anyone who loves and sleeps down the hall from a young, developing African American woman.”
—Lisa Delpit, author of “Multiplication Is for White People” and Other People’s Children
“A dynamic call to action. Black girls’ exposure to being pushed out of school and set on paths to incarceration, physical and economic insecurity, and social marginality is so movingly set forth by Morris that it can no longer be ignored. Pushout is essential reading for all who believe that Black lives matter.”
—Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-editor of Critical Race Theory and co-author of the reports “Say Her Name” and “Black Girls Matter”
“At a moment when footage of institutional assaults on young Black men emerges with a horrifying regularity comes a timely and indispensable look at the often invisible oppression of girls of color. Pushout blazes with the voices of young women fighting for their dignity, safety, and the fundamental right to a future.”
—Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down the House and All Alone in the World
“Despite increased attention to the mass and over-incarceration of Black men, the plight of criminalized Black women and girls is overlooked, underreported, and underanalyzed. Finally, a compelling narrative that tells us the heartrending story of how schools are culpable in re-victimizing some of our most vulnerable citizens. This is a must-read for educators, juvenile justice officials, parents, and the entire community.”
—Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“Morris’s sharp analysis and the compassionate way she contextualizes these stories will surely compel readers to take action against the injustices that Black girls experience in schools and beyond.”
—Beth E. Richie, author of Arrested Justice
Praise for Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues
Black girls are not often at the center of the stories we read. Monique Morris’s work is a wonderful exception. Her passionate book explains how the real world—specifically schools—ignores, misreads, and mistreats us. This much-needed book is so important because it shows how Black and Brown girls, with the help of the teachers and people who love them, can write new stories that replace the fiction about our worth, our abilities, and ourselves.”
—Marley Dias, founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks and author of Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!
“Not many, if any, books detail how to uplift and heal Black and Brown girls in real time in ways that are loving, focused on thriving, and practical, but Monique W. Morris has done it. Through rich and vivid storytelling backed by data and research, Morris gives us a pedagogical road map to our own humanity as educators by way of empowering Black and Brown girls. Each chapter helps the reader find their song, so they can sing a rhythm for our girls.”
—Bettina L. Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive
“With Pushout, Monique Morris brought the world to its knees and widened our eyes to see how systems have been designed to wrong our most vulnerable and brilliant young people. In Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues, she takes us on a deeper journey and offers us a way to reimagine schools and a path towards real solutions. The book has a simple elegance that is accessible and engaging, that is matched with ferocious truth telling and powerful narratives from real people on the front lines of the war against Black girls. I read it, felt something deep inside, read it again—and then again. It is one of those books. It hooks you, then teaches you, then offers you a path towards solutions. A masterpiece.”
—Christopher Emdin, author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood
“Monique Morris’s vision for our girls is powerfully expansive. She’s an inspiration to me and to all of us working to unleash their infinite potential.”
—Beverly Bond, celebrity DJ and founder of Black Girls Rock!
“Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues is a brilliant and beautiful book. Drawing on rigorous scholarly analysis and deep engagement with the narratives of educational stakeholders, Morris articulates a lucid and audacious freedom dream for Black girls. Like an African rhythm, the book speaks to our souls and our feet, daring us to reimagine the world and demanding that we radically reshape our policy and practice. Like the blues, Morris’s writing is compelling, honest, and raw, but brimming with hope. Anyone interested in the lives of Black girls must read, recommend, share, study, and teach this text!”
—Marc Lamont Hill, BET correspondent and author of Nobody
“Morris is a force and a light, and this book invigorates the soul. It should be required reading for all teachers and it’s essential reading for anyone working to create a world where girls and women are truly liberated and loved.”
—Susan Burton, founder of A New Way of Life and author of Becoming Ms. Burton
“This beautiful book fills me with hope that our schools and our society can learn to nurture the tremendous untapped potential of Black and Brown girls. Through compelling and powerful stories, Dr. Morris shows how to support girls facing huge challenges to succeed as students, as artists, or as activists—and at loving themselves.”
—Naomi Wadler, activist and advocate for gun control
“Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space.”
—Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman