screenshot of Monique Morris TED talkby Monique W. Morris
TED, 2019

Why are black girls in US schools more likely to be disciplined, expelled, or even arrested than are their white and Latinx counterparts?

Why do people perceive black girls as older, and more independent and sexually precocious that they are?

Why do people believe that black girls need less protection and nurturing?

Researcher and educator Monique Morris highlights these difficult and unjust realities and calls for schools to be a place of healing, nurturing, and empowerment for all students — including black girls.

As she says,

“Education is a critical protective factor against contact with the criminal legal system. So we should be building out policies and practices that keep girls connected to their learning, rather than pushing them away from it. It’s one of the reasons I like to say that education is freedom work. When girls feel safe, they can learn. When they don’t feel safe, they fight, they protest, they argue, they flee, they freeze. The human brain is wired to protect us when we feel a threat. And so long as school feels like a threat, or part of the tapestry of harm in a girl’s life, she’ll be inclined to resist. But when schools become locations for healing, they can also become locations for learning.”

Morris touches on solutions such as addressing dress codes and conduct-related policies; uncovering biases that prevent us from seeing black girls as they really are; introducing practices such as restorative justice and mindfulness training; and removing school police and adding more counselors.

Watch the video:

Use this video to spark discussion about issues such as perceptions, inequity, social justice, and compassion and empathy.