Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools and the killing of George Floyd while in police custody

A new documentary, PUSHOUT, inspires policymakers, heals communities and creates change for Black girls throughout the country. Plus how the film relates to the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by a white police officer.

Video Transcript

MONIQUE MORRIS: This is about a reckless treatment of black lives. This is about a flagrant disregard for black lives. Our protests are often in the name of men and boys.

- I'm tired of writing about another black man or woman that's died. I am tired of it.

MONIQUE MORRIS: We forget that so many girls, young women, trans women are disproportionately impacted by the same state-sanctioned violence that our men and boys are experiencing.


- (CHANTING) Are we next?

- (CHANTING) Are we next?


- (CHANTING) Are we next?

- Everybody.

- (CHANTING) Are we next?


MONIQUE MORRIS: "Pushout" is an exploration of the policies, practices, conditions, and the prevailing consciousness that impacts what renders girls, black girls, specifically, vulnerable to future contact with the juvenile court and criminal legal system. They were being removed from schools because they were out of uniform. Little girls, ages six and seven, who were being arrested and handcuffed in their schools because they had a tantrum in class. These things that we know, you know, warrant a different response than police intervention.

- No justice, no peace.

- We need justice right now. I'm tired. I'm tired of being tired. So let's do it until our voices give out. Let's do it until our feet get tired. We need justice!

- Yeah

- Woo!

MONIQUE MORRIS: For so long, black girls were really left out of the conversation about justice. The "Pushout" conversation really invites us to have a deeper, you know, more critical and rigorous analysis of how this violence seeps into our communities.

GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe. I can't breathe [INAUDIBLE]

MONIQUE MORRIS: My reaction to the video of George Floyd being killed by the white officer, it was triggering. And unfortunately, my response was, ugh, not another one. This broader conversation about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, this is about a reckless treatment of black lives. This is about a flagrant disregard for black lives, and that we now have, you know, in the midst of a global pandemic, an additional need to talk about what has long been pervasive in the lives of black Americans, where we have, you know, this ongoing conversation about who is deserving of life, who is deserving of breath.


Looting and the violent destruction of property is a form of public grief. It is definitely something that can form as a distraction to the broader movement. It is something that can cause harm in our own communities. I don't agree with the violence that takes place. I think it does undermine the broader arguments and very specific calls to action that are being put forth by protesters who are engaging in a conversation. But I also think that we have to acknowledge that, when people riot, when people loot, when people engage in these kinds of behaviors is an expression of dissatisfaction and hurt.

How are we going to heal from this? Healing begins with a recognition of pain. What we want is the fundamental right to be received as a human being and to be afforded the rights and dignities that come along with that. We want to be able to have safety that is not led with a police escort.

It's not just police officers who are causing harm in the lives of black girl in schools. Many girls describe interactions with their educators or their teachers that are problematic.

- My teacher got super duper mad and dragged me by the chair, yelled at the other kids to move, and dragged me all the way outside.

MONIQUE MORRIS: It's really important for us to explore that young people need to feel safe in order to learn. And so the argument in "Pushout" the film, the book is our lives are not disposable. When the cameras shut off, when the protests stop, we have to continue to have these conversations with our children, in our communities, with our elders about this value of black lives and this unique manifestation of white privilege in this country.

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