According to author Monique Morris, Black girls make up 16 percent of American school students, but account for over 33 percent of school arrests.
In her book Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, Morris writes:
“It has to be acknowledged that most Black girls experience forms of confinement and carceral experiences beyond simply going to jail or prison. Broadening the scope to include detention centers, house arrest, electronic monitoring, and other forms of social exclusion allows us to see Black girls in trouble where they might other wise be hidden.”
Morris joined Roland Martin on Wednesday’s edition of NewsOne Now to talk about her book, how African-American girls are being criminalized, and what can be done to reverse the trend of “school-to-confinement pathways” for young Black women.
“When we look at the statistics, we see that Black girls are experiencing much to the same degree that Black males are experiencing pain, and yet our investment in our children has prioritized the pain of Black males over those of Black girls,” said Morris.
Morris told Martin, “Black girls are consistently the only group that is overrepresented in all discipline categories for which the U.S. Department of Education collects data on.”
“This is a huge civil rights issue and concern,” Morris said.
She continued, “We also see that Black girls are living with a gaze that misinterprets their Black femininity, their identity, in ways that render them being classified as loud and sassy that people read as an attitude, and we miss an underlying story of victimization and trauma that is usually associated with misbehavior in schools.”
Later during the NewsOne Now conversation, Morris said, “Many schools are revisiting zero tolerance policies, which they absolutely must do, they also need to revisit school dress code policies, which we see Black girls uniquely talking about differential enforcement.”
She added, “A Black girl will show up in short-shorts and she’s turned around and sent home — many of the girls in the book tell me and in my research tell me that White girls can show up in the same pair of shorts and their bodies are not policed in the same way.”
Watch Roland Martin, author Monique Morris, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the criminalization of Black girls and her new book Pushout in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.