Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues

Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

A groundbreaking and visionary call to action on educating and supporting girls of color, from the highly acclaimed author of Pushout

“Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space.” —Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman and the first woman of color elected to Boston’s city council

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 on the criminalization of black girls in schools, Monique W. Morris invokes the spirit of the blues to articulate a radically healing and empowering pedagogy for Black and Brown girls.

A passionate manifesto that builds naturally on her previous book, Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues reimagines what education might look like if schools placed the flourishing of Black and Brown girls at their center. Grounding each chapter in interviews, case studies, and testimonies of educators who work successfully with girls of color, Morris blends research with real life to offer a radiant manifesto on 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.

Book cover photograph by Brittsense/brittsense.com.

Praise

“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

Books by Monique W. Morris

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

Monique W. Morris

Pushout
The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Monique W. Morris