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PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
117-minutes
Alarmingly, African American girls are the fastest-growing population in the criminal justice system and the only group of girls to disproportionately experience criminalization at every education level. The film underscores the challenges Black girls face with insights from multiple experts across the country who have worked extensively in the field of social justice, gender equality and educational equity, giving context to the crisis and providing a roadmap for how our educational system and those who interact with Black girls can provide a positive rather than punitive response to behaviors that are often misunderstood or misrepresented.
Screening day / Geo-Restriction
  • Saturday, Nov 21: US Only

PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Filmmakers
Running Time
Feature Film
117 minutes
Genres
Documentary

PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Alarmingly, African American girls are the fastest-growing population in the criminal justice system and the only group of girls to disproportionately experience criminalization at every education level. The film underscores the challenges Black girls face with insights from multiple experts across the country who have worked extensively in the field of social justice, gender equality and educational equity, giving context to the crisis and providing a roadmap for how our educational system and those who interact with Black girls can provide a positive rather than punitive response to behaviors that are often misunderstood or misrepresented. Pushout focuses on the challenges Black girls face and emphasizing first-person narratives from them. Hearing from girls as young as seven and as old as 19, they describe navigating a society that often marginalizes and dismisses them. At the same time the documentary lays out how adults and policy makers can address the needs of these young girls and women with positive responses that can short circuit the pervasive over punishment of Black girls. Update: Pushout film inspired legislation called “Ending PUSHOUT Act” sponsored by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

Filmmaker Notes:

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

Looking at how our educational system serves our nation’s children has been an interest of mine for some time. All of my education – from kindergarten to graduate school has been at public schools and universities (UC Berkeley and UCLA) and I believe that public education can be a vehicle for social justice.

For American Graduate – an on-going initiative from Public Broadcasting – I was fortunate enough to write and produce two documentaries that addressed some of the issues facing our country’s students – “Too Important to Fail” about African American boys and education and “Education Under Arrest” about teenagers and the juvenile justice system.

When President Obama created My Brother’s Keeper, I was struck by the fact that African American girls were left out of the discussion. Research into the challenges faced by Black girls in our schools brought me to Dr. Monique Morris, whose groundbreaking book, “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools”, is one of the most important investigations into the cultural beliefs, policies and practices that adversely affect African American girls in our schools.

With my producing partner, Denise Pines, we reached out to Dr. Morris to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a documentary that would draw much needed attention to the exclusionary practices that interrupt the education of Black girls.

After several productive discussions we agreed to collaborate on a documentary based on her research and expertise – and our documentary of the same name began production.

It’s a privilege to help tell this often overlooked and under-reported story. As a filmmaker, collaborating with Dr. Morris means we will get this important narrative “right”, honoring the way Black girls are dealing with the challenges they face in today’s educational landscape while pointing out how educators can change policies and practices to make sure that as Dr. Morris says, “the punitive discipline that creates a disproportionate criminalization of Black girls and disrupts one of the most important factors in their lives – education– does not continue.”

Jacoba “Coby” Atlas

Film details
Subtitles
None
More information
Festival screenings
Year(s) screened
  • 2020
Screening day / Geo-Restriction
  • Saturday, Nov 21: US Only
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