Disciplinary action taken against Black girls in high schools is severely imbalanced compared to White students—they are six times more likely to be suspended than White girls, according to a 2015 report from the African American Policy Forum—and the new documentary, “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools,” debuting on PBS, brings this disparity to the head of the class.
Produced by Women in the Room Productions and based on social justice scholar Monique W. Morris’ book of the same name, “Pushout” shares stories from five Black teens who overcame harsh treatment in school and garners insight from national social justice, gender equality and educational equity experts who speak to the practices, cultural beliefs and educational policies that make it harder to Black girls to receive an education. The film also includes first-person interviews from girls as young as seven to as old as 19, who describe living in a world that often marginalizes, criminalizes and dismisses them.
“I want people to walk away from this documentary understanding, number one, that our girls are not disposable…and to really think about how we can shift our understanding of what constitutes a bad attitude or sassiness or combativeness,” Morris is quoted saying on PBS’ website. “The documentary is a tool to explore how educators, parents, and policymakers can demonstrate that we love our girls and hold them, and their educational opportunities, as sacred to our community.”