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Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

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A groundbreaking and visionary call to action on educating and supporting girls of color, from the highly acclaimed author of Pushout "Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space." —Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman and the first woman of color elected to Boston's city council Wise Black women have known for centuries that the blues have A groundbreaking and visionary call to action on educating and supporting girls of color, from the highly acclaimed author of Pushout "Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space." —Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman and the first woman of color elected to Boston's city council Wise Black women have known for centuries that the blues have been a platform for truth-telling, an underground musical railroad to survival, and an essential form of resistance, healing, and learning. In her highly anticipated follow-up to the widely acclaimed Pushout on the criminalization of black girls in schools, Monique W. Morris invokes the spirit of the blues to articulate a radically healing and empowering pedagogy for Black and Brown girls. A passionate manifesto that builds naturally on her previous book, Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues reimagines what education might look like if schools placed the flourishing of Black and Brown girls at their center. Grounding each chapter in interviews, case studies, and testimonies of educators who work successfully with girls of color, Morris blends research with real life to offer a radiant manifesto on moving away from punishment, trauma, and discrimination toward safety, justice, and genuine community in our schools. In the tradition of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and Other People’s Children, Morris’s new book is a clarion call—for educators, parents, students, and anyone who has a stake in a better tomorrow—to transform schools into places where learning and collective healing can flourish.


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A groundbreaking and visionary call to action on educating and supporting girls of color, from the highly acclaimed author of Pushout "Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space." —Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman and the first woman of color elected to Boston's city council Wise Black women have known for centuries that the blues have A groundbreaking and visionary call to action on educating and supporting girls of color, from the highly acclaimed author of Pushout "Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space." —Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman and the first woman of color elected to Boston's city council Wise Black women have known for centuries that the blues have been a platform for truth-telling, an underground musical railroad to survival, and an essential form of resistance, healing, and learning. In her highly anticipated follow-up to the widely acclaimed Pushout on the criminalization of black girls in schools, Monique W. Morris invokes the spirit of the blues to articulate a radically healing and empowering pedagogy for Black and Brown girls. A passionate manifesto that builds naturally on her previous book, Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues reimagines what education might look like if schools placed the flourishing of Black and Brown girls at their center. Grounding each chapter in interviews, case studies, and testimonies of educators who work successfully with girls of color, Morris blends research with real life to offer a radiant manifesto on moving away from punishment, trauma, and discrimination toward safety, justice, and genuine community in our schools. In the tradition of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and Other People’s Children, Morris’s new book is a clarion call—for educators, parents, students, and anyone who has a stake in a better tomorrow—to transform schools into places where learning and collective healing can flourish.

30 review for Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christina Potter Bieloh

    Net Galley provided me with an ARC of this book, and I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to read it. I think I can best review this book (and demonstrate its importance) by sharing what resonated with me. First, in between the chapters are interludes. These are short songs, poems, and individual experiences which emphasize sources of strength and positivity for these Black and Brown girls. It's important to understand her discussion of "erasure". She describes these primarily Black and B Net Galley provided me with an ARC of this book, and I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to read it. I think I can best review this book (and demonstrate its importance) by sharing what resonated with me. First, in between the chapters are interludes. These are short songs, poems, and individual experiences which emphasize sources of strength and positivity for these Black and Brown girls. It's important to understand her discussion of "erasure". She describes these primarily Black and Brown girls as feeling as though they don't exist. They go to school and are taught about other people's history and experiences. They want a curriculum that includes their "histories, interpretations, and contributions to American narratives." It makes me think: How can I do a better job as a teacher to ensure that my students of color value their existence and importance in our American narratives? She writes about the ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) that so many of these Black and Brown girls have experienced, and how it affects their ability to learn. Of course it also affects their behavior in school. How do we address these behaviors? How do we get past them to help these students succeed? It's not acceptable to just "push them out of school". Instead how do we as educators help them redirect that energy? How can we help them find their own voice? She addresses these questions, and she continuously makes me want to think about how I can do better. She doesn't just ask the questions though. She provides educators with many ideas and tools about how to reach these students. She writes about restorative justice methods, volunteerism, and most importantly the crucial need to build relationships. These relationships are what are KEY in her writing. Educators must build relationships with their students. Students must know that we care and that we want them to succeed. It's a difficult path sometimes. Some students are hard to love. They have faced things that I can't even imagine, and as a result, they act out and create thick shells around themselves. We can't just push these students away and give up on them, because they are the ones that need us the most. The importance of building relationships with each student cannot be over emphasized, and this is the essence of her important book. #SingArhythmDanceAblues #NetGalley

  2. 4 out of 5

    Temika

    If you are a part of any black or brown girl's life, please read this book. We really have to examine how we raise these children and let's take notes from an expert. This book describes what we are currently doing and what we should be doing instead in terms of cultivating spaces for black and brown girls. The author focuses on the k-12 experience but this can be translated to home and community life. This is not a parenting book. It is more geared towards school and community officials. Howeve If you are a part of any black or brown girl's life, please read this book. We really have to examine how we raise these children and let's take notes from an expert. This book describes what we are currently doing and what we should be doing instead in terms of cultivating spaces for black and brown girls. The author focuses on the k-12 experience but this can be translated to home and community life. This is not a parenting book. It is more geared towards school and community officials. However, a parent of a teen who may be experiencing behavioral issues, should read this book in order to better advocate for their child. This book is a guide for implementing more love into policy and less punishment. Caring about the whole circumstance and the whole individual instead of just the incident.

  3. 5 out of 5

    IquoImoh Terry

    How can we better protect and help liberate black and brown girls, we need to know and understand them and stop overlooking them. Monica Morris has once again open my eyes to better understanding and protecting black and brown girls.. Liking their rhythm is not enough we must empathize and understand their blues.. A must read . This is a book that I will definitely recommend that our Justice Team read..

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Bruner

    Monique Morris' Pushout was a unique experience, so I was very excited to receive an ARC of Sing A Rhythm, Dance a Blues. In the book, Morris talks about the issues that are faced by black and brown girls across the country, talking about a need for restoration and understanding of these girls and their trauma. Like Pushout, I was often discouraged by the fact that a lot of Morris' goals are impeded by our education system and she does not give concrete ways to deal with the system from the insi Monique Morris' Pushout was a unique experience, so I was very excited to receive an ARC of Sing A Rhythm, Dance a Blues. In the book, Morris talks about the issues that are faced by black and brown girls across the country, talking about a need for restoration and understanding of these girls and their trauma. Like Pushout, I was often discouraged by the fact that a lot of Morris' goals are impeded by our education system and she does not give concrete ways to deal with the system from the inside, but the message touched me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues is Dr. Monique Morris's bracing follow-up to her 2015 study, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. Black and Brown girls experience a shockingly disproportionate rate of disciplinary action in U.S. schools, often leading to incarceration. Moreover, Morris notes, "[b]lack girls with disabilities are two to three times as likely as their white counterparts to be suspended or arrested" (112). Morris calls for awareness, advocacy, and accountability on Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues is Dr. Monique Morris's bracing follow-up to her 2015 study, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. Black and Brown girls experience a shockingly disproportionate rate of disciplinary action in U.S. schools, often leading to incarceration. Moreover, Morris notes, "[b]lack girls with disabilities are two to three times as likely as their white counterparts to be suspended or arrested" (112). Morris calls for awareness, advocacy, and accountability on the part of all those who work with, care for, and share the world with girls of color. Morris grabbed my attention at the outset, stating that "[i]n school districts throughout the country, disproportionately high levels of Black, Latina, and Indigenous girls are struggling to realize their true identities as scholars. Too often they are pushed out of schools and into participation in underground economies, in which they're vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and other harms. FOR THESE GIRLS, DEFIANCE, AS AN EXPRESSION OF DISSENT, IS CRIMINALIZED; IT IS TREATED AS AN OFFENSE, RATHER THAN UNDERSTOOD AS A FORM OF CRITICAL THINKING" (8, emphasis mine). To understand defiance as an expression of dissent and thus a form of critical thinking is to turn upside-down the paradigm of student vs. teacher, child vs. authority, criminal vs. state, and to uphold a potent and restorative tradition of healing, liberation, and justice. Weaving through her argument the voices and stories of creative educators, mentors, girls, school districts and non-profits, Morris makes a compelling case that rebuilding relationships and empowering those who have experienced trauma is at the heart of education. "The issues facing our vulnerable girls are urgent. Instead of shying away from their challenges, engage them. Seek to understand who they are and whom they can become. The tempo of this pedagogy is liberation, and its groove is love. Let it light the path to learning for all of us" (177).

  6. 4 out of 5

    LaToya King

    “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to beat him temporarily at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” Audre Lorde Education is freedom work, and if we continue to uphold the educational institution without acknowledging that it has been a tool used to oppress, push out, and exclude, we will never truly be free. In Monique Morris’ follow up to Pushout, she continues to delve into the practice of criminalizing Black and “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to beat him temporarily at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” Audre Lorde Education is freedom work, and if we continue to uphold the educational institution without acknowledging that it has been a tool used to oppress, push out, and exclude, we will never truly be free. In Monique Morris’ follow up to Pushout, she continues to delve into the practice of criminalizing Black and Brown girls. She exposes the continued use of the school to confinement pathway and the harm it does for girls in the present and society in the future. She continues the conversation by scholars like Chris Emdin and Bettina Love that urges not educational reform, but a complete overhaul and paradigm shift. She implores parents, educators, advocates, and the community to pick up the tools of educational and restorative justice to transform the way we educate. In this manifesto Morris suggests that pedagogy that is communal, healing, and empowering will reach those who have been systematically excluded from education and teach them how to be and live freely.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rose Peterson

    I wanted to love this book. At the end, I respected it--I know it's an important step in the publishing world to have a subtitle that explicitly mentions the liberation of black and brown girls--but I didn't love it. Morris says she will not detail the failures of the past but the successes of programs in the present, but I'm not sure she makes good on that promise. Whenever she does cite specific programs, the mentions are brief and don't provide enough detail or context to be helpful to reader I wanted to love this book. At the end, I respected it--I know it's an important step in the publishing world to have a subtitle that explicitly mentions the liberation of black and brown girls--but I didn't love it. Morris says she will not detail the failures of the past but the successes of programs in the present, but I'm not sure she makes good on that promise. Whenever she does cite specific programs, the mentions are brief and don't provide enough detail or context to be helpful to readers. I'm certain Morris did copious amounts of research for this book, but I worry the meat of that didn't make it into the book. Instead, it felt like a string of educational buzzwords--SEL, trauma-sensitive care, ACES, restorative practices--without much meaningful exploration of how these uniquely support black and brown girls or what that unique support would look like. I also wanted connections to the blues to be more frequent and more explicit. Other than in the underdeveloped introduction, the music form was rarely mentioned. I'd like a clearer articulation of blues elements and what their liberatory educational equivalents are. Despite my hefty critique, I did appreciate the first half of this book in particular because it confirmed what I already believe to be true about education but need frequent reminders and validation about, especially in a time when those who suggest that elements of liberatory pedagogy, like advocating for the elimination of exclusionary discipline, can be dismissed as soft and overly sensitive. I underlined several phrases that resonated with me and refocused my teaching. However, those few gems weren't enough to carry the book. I hope this book will serve the role of paving the way for more books like it, books that can go into greater depth and lead to more specific action to truly liberate black and brown girls.

  8. 4 out of 5

    V Dixon

    Many will not want to believe the information in this work but it is real. One reason people will want to disregard this information is that it shows a less than admirable face of American society. Another reason some will rant against this work is that is shows the way young people are marginalized and this is a hard pill to swallow for a country that proclaims it is about "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all its citizens." I think this work needs to not only be read but actions shou Many will not want to believe the information in this work but it is real. One reason people will want to disregard this information is that it shows a less than admirable face of American society. Another reason some will rant against this work is that is shows the way young people are marginalized and this is a hard pill to swallow for a country that proclaims it is about "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all its citizens." I think this work needs to not only be read but actions should be taken to correct the issues shown in this book. Ms. Morris has another work titled "Pushout" and it also exposes the harsh realities that many young girls of color endure on a daily basis. And the title itself is a message...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    "Millions of people consume the blues as entertainment without acknowledging its most important contributions to the freedom struggle: a platform for truth telling, a form of resistance, and thus a pathway to healing and learning." -Monique W. Morris I believe this book is required reading for anyone who loves, cares for, or educates brown girls. Not only does the author point out flaws in our education system, she adds ways in which it can be improved upon. Though I have formed a unique perspect "Millions of people consume the blues as entertainment without acknowledging its most important contributions to the freedom struggle: a platform for truth telling, a form of resistance, and thus a pathway to healing and learning." -Monique W. Morris I believe this book is required reading for anyone who loves, cares for, or educates brown girls. Not only does the author point out flaws in our education system, she adds ways in which it can be improved upon. Though I have formed a unique perspective of public education because of my own experiences, I am glad that I was able to read Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues and be able to better understand other's perspectives as well. Oftentimes we believe that more discipline will cause our children to "shape up" and be better students, but the real answer here is all about love and I'm so elated that I was able to see this message translated and shared in this book! I especially love the format of the book, starting with interludes then going into "songs" which further illustrate how our current education system is failing our young black girls. Not only do I feel this book is a necessary read for educators, I feel like this book is necessary for all brown girls and advocates, as there is so much information here that can help + heal us all. Can't wait to purchase a hardcover copy and share with others. Major thanks to The New Press and Netgalley for an ARC of Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kesi Augustine

    Not only is this the perfect follow up to Pushout, Morris lists many practical solutions for schools who want to shift to recovery and reconciliation for Black girls in public schools. I wrote a list of every model and method she has used and seen in other schools, and I’m giving it straight to my administration. I also love that she, like Bettina Love, puts wellness and love at the center of everything. These are the values that will take our education system forward, as well as our world: adop Not only is this the perfect follow up to Pushout, Morris lists many practical solutions for schools who want to shift to recovery and reconciliation for Black girls in public schools. I wrote a list of every model and method she has used and seen in other schools, and I’m giving it straight to my administration. I also love that she, like Bettina Love, puts wellness and love at the center of everything. These are the values that will take our education system forward, as well as our world: adopting a holistic approach to solving problems, and treating each other as human beings. Just in awe of her as a scholar and grateful for her generosity.

  11. 5 out of 5

    DearBookClub

    "Black and Brown girls who don't see themselves in the curriculum, and narratives that aren't as diverse as their communities are in real life, detach from the material and come to view education as a game rather than as a tool for their freedom." --- Monique W. Morris --- "Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues," by Monique Morris, is a very intense book that discusses the institutionalized racism within the education field that impacts Black & Brown girls. This is a great book about the school-to-prison "Black and Brown girls who don't see themselves in the curriculum, and narratives that aren't as diverse as their communities are in real life, detach from the material and come to view education as a game rather than as a tool for their freedom." --- Monique W. Morris --- "Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues," by Monique Morris, is a very intense book that discusses the institutionalized racism within the education field that impacts Black & Brown girls. This is a great book about the school-to-prison pipeline and what can be done within learning organizations to help marginalized children succeed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dora Okeyo

    I'm not American and even that did not hamper me from relating to this book because I'm black and some of the challenges faced by girls that the author discusses were not new to me. I love how this book is written because it welcomes the reader into the struggles of young girls of color and though I found no concrete recommendations or actionable points from this book, just by talking about what's happening, I believe the author is well on her way to seeing to change in the education system. Thank I'm not American and even that did not hamper me from relating to this book because I'm black and some of the challenges faced by girls that the author discusses were not new to me. I love how this book is written because it welcomes the reader into the struggles of young girls of color and though I found no concrete recommendations or actionable points from this book, just by talking about what's happening, I believe the author is well on her way to seeing to change in the education system. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC. PS: Sorry it took a long time for me to finish reading this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Took my time with this book. Wanted to process as I read each chapter. Morris offers practical advice along with the research for reaching and empowering this segment of our education community.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    I wish there was the option for extra stars. This book transcended my expectations and I recommend it above pretty much any other book in terms of a resource for teachers and youth workers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sara Broad

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rosario Jimenez

  17. 5 out of 5

    Clarissa Pohlman

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dolores

  19. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isabel Bozada-Jones

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jay Klyman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tami G

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan Gafvert

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kourtney

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiyanna Shanay

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Hayes

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

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