Black Girls use their Voices

December 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

The Institute’s latest podcast, Shades of Freedom, from the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, amplifies promising efforts to reduce mass incarceration and explores the inequalities that perpetuate incarceration. The podcast launched with “PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” with Dr. Monique Morris, the founder of National Black Women’s Justice Institute and the author of PUSHOUT, which PBS recently adapted into a documentary, and Stephanie Patton, the principal of Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls. Increasingly, Morris said, Black girls are subject to criminalization and “adultification” in schools. Patton agreed, sharing the experience of her school: “Most of the parents are single mothers. So, if I don’t do my best to understand that trauma and how we relate as Black women and as Black girls, we’ll never get to the greatness we’re destined for.” She said her community went through a lot of talking and healing to change the energy at school and to create a safe space for Black women and girls to be heard. “It reduced our discipline rates, it knocked out our suspensions, we didn’t have a fight in over two years—because our girls learned to use their voices.”