cover image Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

Monique W. Morris. New Press, $23.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62097-399-8

Morris (Pushout), president and founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, condenses decades of experience into a diagnosis and a prescription for an educational system she identifies as failing black and brown girls . Pointing to the prevalence of police in schools and recounting incidents of mistreatment, she argues that “punitive learning environments... have emerged in response to the prevailing racialized gender bias that criminalizes girls of color”; as one school resource officer tells her, “they are often perceived as... violent. If a girl of color challenges authority, it is deemed unacceptable.” Morris skillfully argues that, instead, schools need to create a healing environment where young people are still held to account: she proposes in-school rather than outright suspensions, in rooms with homework stations and couches; “encouragement to engage in advocacy and activism as part of their healing process”; restorative justice practices; mentorship that empowers young women to change their lives; and systemic oversight of schools that protects students’ rights. She gives detailed examples of alternatives to the current system that she has seen firsthand, for example the older black hall monitors in one school, lovingly referred to as “the grandmothers,” who render police presence unnecessary. This is a carefully crafted, heartfelt, solution-oriented source for educators and policy makers. [em]Agent: Marie Brown, Marie Brown Associates. (Aug.) [/em]