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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 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, now a core text for teachers and principals on the criminalization of Black girls in schools, leading advocate Monique W. Morris invokes the spirit of the blues to articulate a radically healing and empowering pedagogy for Black and Brown girls.

A clarion call for educators, parents, and anyone who has a stake in a better tomorrow to transform schools into places where learning and collective healing can flourish, these pages journey from Oakland to Ohio and from New York to Iowa City and beyond. Morris describes with candor and love what it looks like to meet the complex needs of girls on the margins. In doing so she offers a collection of gems from educators who are attuned to the patterns of pain and struggle, and who show how adults working in schools can harness their wisdom to partner with students and help the girls they teach find value and joy in learning.

Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues reimagines what education might look like if schools placed the thriving of Black and Brown girls at their center. Morris brings together research and real life in this chorus of interviews, case studies, and the testimonies of remarkable people who work successfully with girls of color. The result is this radiant manifesto―a guide to 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.

Book cover photograph by Brittsense/brittsense.com.

Review

Praise for Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues:
"Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues is a vital, generous and sensitively reasoned argument for how we might transform American schools to better educate black and brown girls. Nobody paying attention could honestly deny that we desperately need a kinder approach. Educators would be well-advised to consider Morris'' humane strategies."
San Francisco Chronicle Datebook

"This is a carefully crafted, heartfelt, solution-oriented source for educators and policy makers."
Publishers Weekly

"Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues is a brilliant and beautiful book. Drawing on rigorous scholarly analysis and deep engagement with the narratives of educational stakeholders, Morris articulates a lucid and audacious freedom dream for Black girls. Like an African rhythm, the book speaks to our souls and our feet, daring us to reimagine the world and demanding that we radically reshape our policy and practice. Like the blues, Morris''s writing is compelling, honest, and raw, but brimming with hope. Anyone interested in the lives of Black girls must read, recommend, share, study, and teach this text!"
―Marc Lamont Hill, BET correspondent and author of Nobody

"Black girls are not often at the center of the stories we read. Monique Morris''s work is a wonderful exception. Her passionate book explains how the real world―specifically schools―ignores, misreads, and mistreats us. This much-needed book is so important because it shows how Black and brown girls, with the help of the teachers and people who love them, can write new stories that replace the fiction about our worth, our abilities, and ourselves."
―Marley Dias, founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks and author of Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!

"Not many, if any, books detail how to uplift and heal Black and Brown girls in real time in ways that are loving, focused on thriving, and practical, but Monique W. Morris has done it. Through rich and vivid storytelling backed by data and research, Morris gives us a pedagogical road map to our own humanity as educators by way of empowering Black and Brown girls. Each chapter helps the reader find their song, so they can sing a rhythm for our girls."
―Bettina L. Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive

"Morris is a force and a light, and this book invigorates the soul. It should be required reading for all teachers and it''s essential reading for anyone working to create a world where girls and women are truly liberated and loved."
―Susan Burton, founder of A New Way of Life and author of Becoming Ms. Burton

"With Pushout, Monique Morris brought the world to its knees and widened our eyes to see how systems have been designed to wrong our most vulnerable and brilliant young people. In Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues, she takes us on a deeper journey and offers us a way to reimagine schools and a path towards real solutions."
―Christopher Emdin, author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood

"This beautiful book fills me with hope that our schools and our society can learn to nurture the tremendous untapped potential of Black and Brown girls. Through compelling and powerful stories, Dr. Morris shows how to support girls facing huge challenges to succeed as students, as artists, or as activists―and at loving themselves."
―Naomi Wadler, activist and advocate for gun control

"Monique Morris''s vision for our girls is powerfully expansive. She''s an inspiration to me and to all of us working to unleash their infinite potential."
―Beverly Bond, celebrity DJ and founder of Black Girls Rock!

"Monique Morris is a personal shero of mine and a respected expert in this space."
―Ayanna Pressley, U.S. congresswoman

About the Author

Monique W. Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women''s Justice Institute, is the author of several books, including Pushout and Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues (both published by The New Press). Her work has been featured by NPR, the New York Times, MSNBC, Essence, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Education Week, and others. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two daughters.

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4.8 out of 54.8 out of 5
154 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

GAgirl
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent book!
Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2019
I love that she analyzed the problem, and then offers solid solutions--like ones that have been tested. I also appreciate her case studies of education nationally and globally to help the reader understand the breadth of the problem.
8 people found this helpful
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JB
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good read.
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2020
The book echoes Morris'' previous book, Pushout, and further challenges readers to reflect on how schools can better support students who experienced trauma.
2 people found this helpful
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Riley Cornelison
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great condition!
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2020
Sent in great condition
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Lorraine Reeves
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Informational
Reviewed in the United States on December 25, 2019
It is a great read and insight for educators!
3 people found this helpful
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Mitz
4.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
Amazing and Empowering Read!
Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2019
"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... See more
"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."

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. 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. 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. 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.
7 people found this helpful
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Drea Day
5.0 out of 5 stars
Required Reading
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2020
"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... See more
"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.
4 people found this helpful
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Julie
5.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
Get to know the problem on a personal level
Reviewed in the United States on February 7, 2021
We can argue all day long about implicit bias, systemic racism, and other--plenty of people do. Put this book in their hands if you can. The author cuts through the arguments to the real-world experiences of black and brown girls in our schools. This book is the window so... See more
We can argue all day long about implicit bias, systemic racism, and other--plenty of people do. Put this book in their hands if you can. The author cuts through the arguments to the real-world experiences of black and brown girls in our schools. This book is the window so many of us need, whether a teacher, someone who works with youth, or simply someone who wants to understand the lived experiences of others. I learned so much from reading this book. Empathy can only go as far as your imagination can take you. This book fills in the gap with thoughtful research, study, observation, anecdotes, and most importantly, solutions. You''ll walk away with a much richer understanding of what it''s like to be a black or brown girl growing up in our school system today, the problems faced, and proven solutions. It''s enlightening and empowering but never preachy or polarizing. This is our children''s future. The author conveys the sense of urgency for all of us to recognize, understand, and work together to bring immediate change to what our young women endure at school and in our communities. This book will inspire you to share it and act on it. I haven''t stopped thinking or talking about it since reading it. Now it''s up to me to act on it. With gratitude to the author for her care, careful observation, resolve, and expertise.
One person found this helpful
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Support Black Authors
5.0 out of 5 stars
Protect Black/Brown Girls!
Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2019
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 whether or not we are adding to their trauma. This books describes what we are doing during the K-12 academic experience and what we need to... See more
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 whether or not we are adding to their trauma. This books describes what we are doing during the K-12 academic experience and what we need to do instead.

As a black female student who was always referred to as having a smart mouth or constantly in trouble, I now have a clearer perspective of what was being imposed on me.

This book is a guide for implementing more love into policy and less punishment.
Caring about the circumstances and the whole individual, instead of just an incident. While this is not a parenting book and is more geared towards school and community officials, a parent of a teen who may be experiencing behavioral issues, should read this book in order to better advocate for their child.

Feel free to surprise an admin/teacher at your local school with a copy because a lot of them could benefit from reading this.
4 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Maya Yianni
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A must-read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 28, 2020
An amazing book - I couldn’t put it down. As a white teacher this is an invaluable must read. Do the work!
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