A lot of research has been done on the criminalization of Black boys, but few have taken the time to properly unpack how Black girls are treated by the media, authorities and in their very own communities. However, Dr. Monique W. Morris, a social justice scholar and the founder/ president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute has stepped up to draw attention to this crisis.
On average, few people ever connect the dots and that boils down to value and awareness: just consider all of the missing girls in this nation, those we know have been kidnapped and enslaved in Nigeria for trying to get an education in a Chibok school or the countless ones we read about throughout the world. Consider all the young girls that are wrapped up in the R. Kelly mess, and people saying that they (even as teens) knew what they were doing so they deserved it.
Black girls just are not valued.
Despite what seems like a collective dismissal of a problem, PBS will debut a new documentary entitled PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools on March 16th to dissect the problem by sharing the alarming numbers of African-American girls facing “unfair and inequitable treatment in schools across the country and outlines initiatives to help them cope and heal.”
Based on Morris’ two books “PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” and “Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues,” the documentary, according to Forbes magazine’s Jane Levere shows how “African-American girls are the fastest-growing population in the juvenile justice system and the only group of girls disproportionately experiencing harsh discipline at every educational level.”
She further says that the documentary features “the heart-wrenching stories from girls ages seven to 19 from across the country as they narrate the personal challenges they have encountered in their learning environments and beyond, including the testimony of 12-year-old Samaya, who was dragged out of class – and out of her school building – at age seven by her teacher, and left outside to wander the streets for hours before her parents were notified. The documentary also offers insights from noted experts who have worked in social justice, gender equality and educational equity, and explores critical interventions that have been effective in interrupting criminalization in schools.”
Last December by Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced a federal bill inspired by the film called The Ending PUSHOUT Act of 2019. Perhaps, some things are gonna change.
The film also will be shown on the PBS WORLD Channel nationwide starting March 17.