The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

A groundbreaking look at the lives of African American girls by a powerful advocate who has been featured on MSNBC, Ebony.com, the Brian Lehrer Show, and in Essence magazine

“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

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, Black girls make up more than one-third of all girls with a school-related arrest. The first trade 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 the country 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.


“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”
“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
“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.”
—Gloria Steinem
“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
“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
“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

News and Reviews

The Washington Post

The Washington Post reviews Pushout

NewsOne Now with Roland Martin

Listen to Monique W. Morris's interview on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin

The Leonard Lopate Show

Listen to Monique W. Morris's interview on the Leonard Lopate Show

The New Republic

The New Republic reviews Pushout


Books by Monique W. Morris

Black Stats
African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century

Monique W. Morris