By Luke Putvin
Presented by Stories of Self & Solidarity and Black Lives Matter Shoreline, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools was screened at the Edmonds Sno-Isle Library on February 29.
The feature-length documentary takes a deep dive into the lives of black girls and the practices and policies that disrupt their education. It addresses challenges that black girls face in education, emphasizing first-person narratives from girls.
Courtney Wooten, Founder of Suburbia Rising: Stories of Self & Solidarity, along with Gretchen Bjork-Knudsen of Black Lives Matter Shoreline and the Meridian Park Elementary PTSA were behind organizing the screening. Their talks to organize it began in the fall of 2019.
“The library has always been a really excellent partner for us,” Wooten said. “It’s nice to hold a screening like this in a public place, and our libraries are the center of our community. I think we also wanted to do something in south Edmonds because we wanted to have an intentional partnership with Shoreline SD and be able to bring students from both Edmonds and shoreline together.”
Partners in addition to Sno-Isle Libraries included Black Lives Matter Shoreline, Stories of Self & Solidarity, the PTSA from Meridian Park Elementary and the Edmonds Diversity Commission.
“I think the importance of this is coming together in community to discuss hard topics like this and really face it together in an open and honest way, to give people an opportunity to speak to their experience with an audience that may not be aware of what happens when you don’t have privilege,” said Bjork-Knudsen. “It can be a really powerful thing to sit in a room together, be uncomfortable, talk through this and motivate each other to push for change.”
“In Edmonds right now we have a really special opportunity,” Wooten added. “We’re about to hire a new superintendent; we have two senior cabinet members who are leaving, which means we have two new people who will be coming in. Increasing their awareness and being able to make changes that work for everyone is going to be really important. Having a critical awareness of these topics in our community help influence change.”