Book Review: Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Date01 April 2022
Published date01 April 2022
Subject MatterBook Review
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2022, Vol. 33(3) 344 –346
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
Book Review
Book Review
Monique W. Morris. (2016). Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. New York,
NY: The New Press. 256 pp. $12.04 (paperback; Amazon) $20.48 (hardback; Amazon).
ISBN: 1620970945
Reviewed by: Emily K. Pelletier , Queensborough Community College, CUNY, Bayside, NY, USA
DOI: 10.1177/08874034211021904
Dr. Monique W. Morris’ Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools pres-
ents important qualitative research on the process by which Black girls experience
removal from the education system through the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
The research and book focus on the intensive interview and focus group narratives of
Black girls criminalized within the education system. While Morris focuses on the
education system, the critiques and lessons Morris presents also offer an important
framework for critiquing juvenile justice policy. Morris centers the voices of Black
girls impacted by exclusion, surveillance, and infiltration of the criminal justice sys-
tem into school environments. Through their narratives, the girls identify the failings
of policies and practices inside and outside classrooms.
In Pushout, Morris highlights the major themes emerging from her qualitative
research in each chapter: Black girls are “subjected to powerful narratives of their
collective identity” that shape their educational experience; the voices of Black girls
offer a critical understanding of the disparate impact of zero-tolerance policies;
school policies and practices seek to “regulate their bodies in a learning environ-
ment”; the educational experiences in juvenile corrections programs mirror the exclu-
sion, surveillance, and punitive experiences of Black girls in educational settings
prior to confinement; and the need for better institutional support for the educational
and career objectives of Black girls (Morris, 2016, pp. 13–14). Morris concludes the
book by offering alternative frameworks for improving conditions and outcomes for
Black girls in schools.
Three central themes emerge in Pushout: exclusion, surveillance, and the infiltra-
tion of the criminal justice system into schools. The Black girls in the book share
experiences of exclusion within school, from school, and outside of school. Morris
summarizes the Black girls’ experiences of school as a place of conflict, from stu-
dents fighting in the hallways to teachers creating confrontation within the classroom.
The girls’ interview narratives reveal conflict deriving from the girls’ assertion of
agency amid attempts of institutional social control. The girls interviewed express
1021904CJPXXX10.1177/08874034211021904Criminal Justice Policy ReviewBook Review

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