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Preview Doc 'American Promise' (Urgent Conversation On Black Male Achievement In Education)

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 5, 2012 6:01 PM
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American Promise

Here's a feature documentary that successfully raised over $50,000 to complete production (we featured the Kickstarter campaign for it, earlier this year), and is moving diligently closer to its eventual end, when public screenings will begin next year.

An intriguing project from Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson titled American Promise - a 12-year documentary that follows their (the filmmakers') son and his best friend, from kindergarten at a private prep school, all the way through high school graduation.

The point of it all was, of course, to focus on America’s troubled education system, and the under-served/under-represented young black boys who are...

... twice as likely as whites to be held back in elementary school, three times as likely to be suspended from school, and half as likely to graduate from college.

And further, the filmmakers share:

We had these startling statistics in mind twelve years ago, when we decided to send our son Idris to a prestigious school in NYC. We turned the camera on ourselves, Idris and his best friend, Seun, in order to make sense of the harsh realities facing black males in today's schools. Twelve years later, Idris and Seun are seniors in high school, and we're now in the midst of our final year of shooting.

Certainly a long journey; I'm definitely curious to see the results of all that hard work, all those years of documentation, the transitions, the peaks and valleys, etc. And I love that they personalized the journey by turning the camera on themselves, so it should provide for even more intimate observation.

The completed film is scheduled to air on PBS' prestigious POV program in 2013t, so it should be accessible to most of us. 

You can request a screening of the film in your area if you're interested; the filmmakers have a "Host a local screening" feature, which allows you to "bring an urgent conversation about black male achievement to your community," and book screenings for 2013 only, which they have now opened.

All you have to do is fill in a form on the film's website to start the hosting process. To book, click HERE.

Here's a preview of what to expect:

MacArthur Trailer from The Rada Film Group on Vimeo.

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  • Blackman | November 6, 2012 10:45 PMReply

    Nadine, Whose going to marry the successful females you believe need more urgent Care than Black Boys? Here is a question for you. Who are marrying them NOW? Today on almost all college campus' across THIS country, over 70% of Black graduating Senior are female. That mean "allegedly" mean over 40% of them are not going to find 'equally-yoked' husbands. In reality, if you factor in the gays + White skin lovers + The Playas; its more like a mere 15% of graduating women will find equally yoked husbands.

    When you attack the Males, you destroy the race. It is the Male that creates Babies. It is the male that protect the family. It is the BLACK MALE that this country FEAR. Females are not feared. This country went from 125,000 Black males prison in 1970 to over 2 Million. No wonder so many OLDER Black Females are so bitter. But you can BLAME your governments Policy and draconian 1980-2000 new laws that TARGETS Black males. Moreover, this country SOCIALIZES black children to grow up HATING themselves. From the news, the movies, the neighborhoods and definately the schools. This country adores self hating Black people that gravel for its crumbs.

  • Maya | November 6, 2012 1:21 PMReply

    I think this is necessary. Our boys are falling through the cracks because no one's interested in boys. I say this as a mother of four girls and one boy. Any program I needed to find for my daughters, there were plenty. For my son, not so much. Luckily, I'm married to the father of my children so he'll always have that male role model. But what I don't understand is why people have SUCH a problem when it comes to things that focus on boys. Are we not supposed to care about them and let them fend for themselves - especially in a country like America? We get mad when people focus on our black boys and then wonder why they're suspects on The First 48.

  • Nadine | November 6, 2012 3:53 PM

    I explained below. If the goal is to help the community, the African Diaspora in the U.S., then focusing solely on boys s not as effective as focusing on the CHILDREN. If the goal is just to help boys, then, they're on the right track. Maya, I stated that the "children" should be the focus if we want to help the community thrive. Again, the explanation below. Also, I don't know WHERE you live where you cannot find programs for boys. What types of programs are you talking about?

  • Nadine | November 6, 2012 6:22 AMReply

    Question... if we continue to ignore the girls, who will eventually give birth to more boys, won't the cycle continue? Don't we need truly (including awareness of self and history) educated girls because they are going to grow up to be the mother's and father's of these children? Despite the common theme of the "trifling Black mother" who leaves her children to be raised by their hardworking, responsible father in present-day Black movies, dramas and sitcoms, the stats tell us 72% of Black women end up raising these children alone. This number does not even include married women who are, of course, expected to carry the brunt of the child-rearing load. Women, in developing nations (which "folks" here are), are also more like to re-invest in their communities than the men, "When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man." (Chris Fortson, “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” Yale News Daily 2003.) This truly singular focus on boys, is like pouring resources into a giant sieve. Boys should never be ignored nonetheless; it's just that greater strides would be made if we focused on our CHILDREN while applying different methods to the different genders. Anything else will create a new class of people who will look down their noses (and turn their backs) on where they came from and those who were "left behind", including the community that invested in them and an entire gender that was left to fend for itself.

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