May 2012 Newsletter
April 2012 Newsletter
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Our hearts grieve for Trayvon Martin and all of the other black boys and men senselessly killed based on the color of their skin. Our children's brown skin shouldn't make them targets for murder. The story of Trayvon has sparked protests around the country about racism and stereotyping. His story reminds us that the post-racial world we yearn for, and that some have actually declared to be present, is not yet here and arguably not even close.However, a few weeks following the unfortunate death of Trayvon, another familiar story was mostly overlooked, perhaps because it has become all too familiar. One weekend, last month, Chicago saw even more bloodshed of black boys: 41 people were shot, 10 of whom died. Many of the victims and perpetrators were young black males. Some of the questions that are pushing the conversation around the Trayvon tragedy are also at the heart of the Chicago story, but what do we do when those who have been stereotyped and those who we are suspicious of, look like Trayvon? The pervasive image of the black male as untrustworthy, violent and inhuman has made him an acceptable victim of violence and murder. This can be easily seen in the black community itself. We are complicit in the behavior we have been so appalled about in the last few weeks. Where is the outrage and the support for our black males who are killing each other? This is not to say that the protests that have engrossed the nation and the media are unwarranted, but let's hope that we do not again miss the opportunity to include and more fully address the chronic issues that plague our community on a daily basis but don't always make the news. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/03/27/walters-perspective-where-are-the...
Nicole Paultre Bell (Sean Bell's fiance), in her open letter to Trayvon's parents, highlights what we see as a major issue that minorities face: internalized racism. She says "I would hear all the time 'the men who killed Sean weren't white', I'm sure you've been hearing the same thing re: George Zimmerman, I believe this is the exact definition of internalized racism. We along with other minorities are conditioned to believe that it's OK to kill us. This has been the primary means by which we have been forced to perpetuate and 'agree' to our own oppression. It has been a major factor preventing us, as black people, from realizing and putting into action the tremendous intelligence and power which in reality we possess."
She hit the nail on the head. We need to make sure that we vocally express our anger against any stereotyping, any form of oppression and any black male life lost to gun violence. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for black teens and it has got to end. http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/pr...
Watch as Rep. Federica Wilson (founder of 5000 Role Models of Excellence) stands up for Trayvon Martin on the House Floor. She will continue to do so until his murderer is arrested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z_1pUXEbIo
Show your support for Trayvon's family by signing this petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-...
PRODUCE! CREATE! INNOVATE! Community Producers Program
The BTBP Community Producers Program (BTBP CPP) is a media literacy and community advocacy program for 16-19 year old black males that provides young men with the tools and knowledge to begin to re-imagine and then to re-image the black male and his community. The program is currently being piloted with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.We are pleased to announce that Columbia University's Community Producers Program is well on its way. It joins Jackson State University's program which began last month and will soon be followed by other great universities around the country. We're constantly updating our website with information about the program in each city. Take a look at what the young men in the BTBP CPP are up to by clicking here: http://www.beyondthebricksproject.com/produce-create-innovate.
This month we'd like to highlight Daniel Tisdale who is the BTBP CPP instructor at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) at Teacher's College, Columbia University. Mr. Daniel Tisdale, a native of Watt, CA is an internationally recognized visual artist, an educator and a political and community activist. He received his M.F.A. at Otis/Parsons School of Design and his BA from California Polytechnic University, where he was honored in 2004 as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. As an educator, Mr. Tisdale has distinguished himself as a person who emphasizes the need for young people to discover and nurture their creative talents and to use their artistic statements to address concerns about their community and its future.He has also extended his activism through art into the community, earning recognition as a respected community advocate. In 1995, he was elected New York State Committee Member to the 70th Assembly District. His community work also includes extensive consultation as a Board Member with the Los Angeles Poverty Department, the National College Art Association, the New York Foundation for the Arts and Creative Time. Mr. Tisdale is a resident of Harlem, New York.
"The work with the young men in Harlem has been wonderfully intense and rewarding, everything I expected as we deconstruct the language of media literacy from Sambo to Tupac in the 21st century." - Mr. Tisdale
We would like to give special thanks to Dr. Ernest Morrell, Dr. Chris Emdin, Veronica Holly, Sandra Overa, M.L. Robinson at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education for their hard work in bringing the program to IUME. We would like to acknowledge Media Make Change, Tara Conley, Nissa Ali and Bianca Baldridge for assisting in the creation and design of the Produce! Create! Innovate! curriculum.
New Beyond the Bricks Project Website
Beyond the Bricks Project's redesigned website is now live! You can keep yourself updated on the young men of the BTBP CPP, upcoming events, scholarly reviews, and a new section we call Dispelling the Myths. This new section is a special effort to RE-IMAGE the black male, with current research from BTBP Scholar, Dr. Ivory Toldson. Also on our site, are blog posts written by educators, students, parents, activists and BTBP team members as well as photos and videos from screenings and events around the country. You can also purchase copies of the film and discussion guides at the BTBP Store.
Recent BTBP News
We are proud to announce an addition to our team, Abena Agyemang. Abena, who joined us in January, holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Spanish from Tufts University in Medford, MA. She is currently working on her Masters in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Abena worked in Advertising prior to working for the Ministry of Education in Spain. Outside of work and school, Abena enjoys traveling and has been to over 20 countries in Europe South America, Asia and Africa. She hopes to add more in the near future. Abena can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read about the entire Beyond the Bricks Project team here: http://www.beyondthebricksproject.com/beyond-bricks-project-team
Beyond the Bricks Helps Schools Address Achievement Gap: Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, NC are utilizing the Beyond the Bricks film and discussion guides for their Western & Northern Regional school districts in order to support their efforts to increase black male academic achievement. We are extremely excited to be a part of Guilford County Schools' ongoing campaign. Read about it here: http://www.beyondthebricksproject.com/whats-new
Last month Beyond the Bricks was screened twice at Freedom House in Boston, MA – the events were hosted by the Multicultural Dropout Outreach Collaborative on Wednesday, March 7th and 28th. The first screening was a community-centered event and the second was designed for and focused specifically on youth. Here are some reflections we received from the organizers following the first event. “Carlos was the young man that stood up and shared the challenges that he was having in school and Roy stepped out and said he would assist. Well that young man, OUR youth videotaped the event, went home and had a conversation with his mother about her parenting. He shared with his mom that they were growing up together and basically she was not parenting him...POWERFUL! Carlos also said that he was going to drop out of school and because of March 7th he NO LONGER will. He also told his mom that he needed to move out and go live with his Nana to succeed in school and to improve his grades and if he didn't turn things around he would move back home. Roy Martin who was one of our panelists met with Carlos. Carlos will be invited to sit on our March 28th panel designed for a youth audience. The panel will also consist of all youth." - Charmaine Arthur-Neverson "My general take on the evening was that it was in fact a success as a first run out and that moving forward we need to be very intentional in our outreach of the target groups we want and perhaps engaging individuals who can bring in GROUPS of our target population versus individual commitment! I think as well that given we are interested in focusing on OUR YOUTH as the audience in this next round that we adults BEST BE READY to be called to action - as Roy so eloquently put it -"WE THE ADULTS HAVE DONE OUR YOUTH A DISSERVICE and on any given sports league THE CAPTAIN would have been fired by now!" And so Knowing that we want a packed house of OUR YOUTH we need to also be mindful of their needs and what may be triggered so having folks who are street workers, social workers, caring kind loving adults, parents (?) folks who are ready to hold and honor our youth for their TRUTHS and whatever emotions they so choose to display and/or react to. I hope the youth who attend PUSH US, CHALLENGE US, AND MAKE US (the adults - their caretakers) UNCOMFORTABLE! Because when we are uncomfortable we are prompted more often than not to TAKE ACTION!" Special thanks to the Boston Foundation and Franklin Shearer for their continued work to engage the Boston community around supporting our young people.
Vanderbilt University held a screening of Beyond the Bricks that took place on March 15th. Dr. Sandra Barnes, Professor of Sociology of Religion and Human and Organizational Development hosted the screening and discussion.
If you're interested in hosting a Town Hall Meeting or Screening, please contact Abena Agyemang, BTBP Communications Associate, at email@example.com
On April 13th through 17th, The 2012 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz will present on her Journal of Negro Education (Winter 2011) article looking at Beyond the Bricks as a case study for "The Use of Educational Documentary in Urban Teacher Education". BTBP Program Manager, Dana Salter will be recognized for her work with the Community Producers program.
Spring is finally here so spring into action and help up support the programs that allow our young men to blossom. Click here to make a donation to Beyond the Bricks Project. Any amount is greatly appreciated.https://market.ifp.org/newyork/fiscal/Donation.cfm
Charles P. Bretan, Ed.D. Strayer University, Greensboro, NC Campus This month's scholar review entitled "Justice Matters" was written by Charles P. Bretan, Ed.D. Dr. Bretan frames the Beyond the Bricks Project into the larger context of education for social justice and discusses how the documentary can serve to create a just society. He examines three elements of the Beyond the Bricks Project: (1) the potential of the project to engender discussions of social justice beyond those centered on the film’s primary focus (i.e. African-American male achievement), (2) the project’s call for civic engagement, and (3) the film as an act of prophetic witness. You can read the entire piece here: http://www.beyondthebricksproject.com/scholar-review
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TLC @taralconley When I co-authored the @BeyondTheBricks media lit curriculum last year, I wanted to make sure the topic of satire was included in the unit.
RT @BeyondTheBricks: RT @mediamakechange: Super excited that @BeyondTheBricks program is now at Teachers College
@BeyondTheBricks@girly1121 did u see Zim's lawyer on 360 fri? He has no idea! The fact that the case is up for question is the ultimate disrespect.
Madame Noire @MadameNoire Every Sr. From Chicago's Urban Prep is college bound. Could same sex education solve the problems of failing schools?
Marc Lamont Hill @marclamonthill Slaves weren't brought to America. People were.
(c) 2012 Beyond the Bricks Project / Washington Koen Media
March 2012 Newsletter
"Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment." ― Mahatma Gandhi
It's Almost Here...
We'll soon be introducing Beyond the Bricks Project's redesigned website! You can keep yourself updated on Beyond the Bricks initiatives, partners, events and social media all in one place. There are blog posts written by educators, students, parents, activists and scholars as well as photos and videos of our programs around the country. We've also created a section where you can find literature that dispels myths about black boys and academic achievement. This site is the ultimate resource for everything Beyond the Bricks Project related and we're looking forward to your visits to the site.
PRODUCE! CREATE! INNOVATE!
With the support of the W.K Kellogg Foundation and the Prudential Foundation, Beyond the Bricks Project announces the launch of the Produce! Create! Innovate! Media literacy Community Producers Program. The first cohort has begun its first course in Jackson, MS, and we are proud to partner with Jackson StateUniversity School of Education who will be sharing the program with young black males on its campus. The instructors for each course are key additions to the team, and we would like to introduce the instructor, Mr. Dennis Daniels.
Dennis Daniels is currently the Principal at Williams School, a division of Oakley Youth Development Center. He is a graduate of Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. He holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology, a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, and is an Educational Specialist in Educational Administration and Supervision.Dennis is currently a Doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program.
Dennis is actively seeking to involve the community in this work. In talking about the project at his school, Ms. Jaclyn Buford, English teacher, volunteered her time to work with the young men on deepening their understanding of the Week 2 topic of how poetry and identity connect to creating new narratives of black males.
"Anybody can be successful with the right tools and motivation. We are black men making a difference within our community by first creating a positive self image." - Dennis Daniels.
Info on the Community Producers Program was included in last month's newsletter. Read here if you missed it!
Check back here for more in depth profiles or each Community Producer city!
We would like to acknowledge and extend a special thank you to Media Make Change, Tara Conley, Nissa Ali and Bianca Baldridge for assisting in the creation and design of the Produce! Create! Innovate! curriculum.And to Dr. Daniel Watkins, Dr. Ingrid Smith, Dennis Williams, Issiah Brydie, Dr. Lennie Little, Dr. Vivian Taylor, Alexander and Excellence Through Creativity (Canton), and Amy Burks-Berryfor their hard work in bringing the program to JSU.
Beyond the Bricks School/Community Initiative
Following the Beyond the Bricks Town Hall in Greensboro North Carolina, sponsored by Guilford County Schools and NC A & T University, GCS Superintendent Maurice Greene brought the film back to his staff. As a result of the impact the film had on its staff, GCS is providing opportunities for its schools to use Beyond the Bricks as a tool for teacher training, classroom discusson and creating dialog and action plans with the community that help to close the achievement gap for school-aged black males.
Guilford County Schools Regional Offices will receive copies of Beyond the Bricks with guidelines for facilitating dialog. This is intended to help increase awareness, interest and focus on issues that impact the social and academic success of black males. Action plans developed at the school and community level will be shared with the region.Beyond the Bricks Project is extremely excited for Guilford County Schools’ Beyond the Bricks School/Community Initiative. We hope that more schools across the country see ths film as atool to promote change in their classrooms and for increasing collaboration with communities.
Recent BTBP News
On February 28th, New York University and Scholastic, Inc. hosted a Beyond the Bricks film screening and discussion in support of black male achievement at Scholastic Inc. Beyond the Bricks Scholars Dr. Ivory Toldson and Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz as well as filmmakers Ouida Washington and Derek Koen participated in the panel discussion.
Following Michelle Alexander's talk at Morgan State University's Beyond the Bricks Lecture Series,an anti-prison organization, Students Against Mass Incarceration, formed a chapter at the university. Read more about it here.
Beyond the Bricks Screenings in Boston/Dorchester, MA on Wednesday, March 7 at Freedom House Inc. Address: 14 Crawford St, Roxbury, MA
Time: 5:30PM - 8:00PM
For more information please contact Multicultural Dropout Outreach Collaborative at 617.445.2805 www.freedomhouse.com
Fundraising is a year-round process and your contributions move us one step closer to our goal. Click here to support the Beyond the Bricks Project. Any amount is much appreciated!
Black males and education
When it comes to black boys and education, more often than not, the stats show that black boys are less likely to do or achieve something. For example, black males are less likely to read at grade level than white males. They are also less likely to graduate from high school with their cohort and attend college. Sadly, a new black male education trend has started receiving media attention. Black boys are more likely than their white, Latino and Asian counterparts to suffer punitive action, be classified as having an intellectual or developmental disability and/or placed in special education. Here at Beyond the Bricks Project, we often wonder how black males can be motivated to continue with their education when it seems that they're being punished for every infraction at a higher rate and more severely than their peers. We need to find out exactly what's happening in the schools and then come up with ways to solve the problems that we encounter.
In many of the nation's middle schools, for example, black boys were about three times as likely to be suspended as white boys. School administration also suspended Latino and Native American students at higher rates than white students but those rates were not as disproportionate. This information comes from a study named "Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis," published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The authors of the study concentrated on suspensions in middle schools because recent research showed that middle school experience was critical for determining future academic achievement. Because federal law requires schools to expel students for bringing weapons, the study focused on suspensions from fighting, abusive language and classroom disruptions because school administrators were able to suspend at their discretion in these cases. Source.
Experts say that the disparities have complex causes and that the higher rate of poor and single parent black households don't account for the difference. Other factors include unintended bias, unequal access to highly effective teachers and differences in school leadership styles. Source.
For a well-written and insightful article on the suspension and expulsion disparities in Massachusetts, click here.
Intellectual and developmental disability diagnoses
Not only are black males punished at a higher rate, they're also more likely to be classified as suffering from a developmental or learning disability even when they may not have said disability. Furthermore, they're underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, Advanced Placement and honors classes, and international baccalaureate programs.Source. Read more here.Alarming stats from around the country
In 2006, more than 50% of black male middle school students were suspended at least once in Palm Beach County, Florida and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In 2010, one in seven black students in St. Mary's County, Maryland were suspended from school compared to one in twenty white students.
Black males are being expelled at six times the rate of white male students nationwide.
In New York City, 5 students are arrested by the NYPD every day and 90% of them are black and Latino. Read more about this here.
In "Breaking Barriers 2", BTB Scholar, Dr. Ivory Toldson finds that the recent trends in the juvenile justice system as well as school disciplinary practices threaten the school experience and are contributing to schools taking on the appearance of correctional facilities. Thankfully the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union are making this problem known and are working toward national solutions. The next step in this process is to find specific approaches to create a school environment that promotes lower levels of delinquency and higher levels of academic success for black males.
Now that you have a greater sense of the issues that our boys are facing at school, we can work together to find ways to make school a safe and welcoming place rather than a precursor to the American penal system.
Clip of the Month: BTB Milwaukee
"Personally, I don't care about yo' degree, and personally I don't care about a documentary, about a movie, personally I don't care about who you say you are and how you gon' help me, because all I know is individuals who forgot about a village... I don't care about your statistics."Watch artist Mr. Muhibb Dyer present a portrayal of a young man who reminds us of where some of our young men are and that there's a lot of work to do. Click here to view the video on YouTube.
Partnership for Los Angeles Schools is a unique collaboration between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District to turnaround LA's lowest performing schools and to create a model for doing so district wide. It serves 17,000 students across 22 schools in some of LA's poorest communities. The Partnership sponsored a Los Angeles screening and discussion of Beyond the Bricks last August, and we are thrilled that their work continues around finding ways to support black male achievement. We recently had a chat with Stephanie Schmier, Coordinator of School Improvement and Ryan Smith, Senior Director of Family and Community Engagement, about a restorative justice and writing class that was launched at Gompers Middle School.
Gompers Middle School, located in South LA is about 65% Latino and 35% black. Unfortunately the school logged 500 student suspensions from September - December of this school year. Because of this, two teachers in the school decided to create "Collective Voices." Students are participating in a restorative justice process with a retired LAPD officer. They are writing and will be publishing their work in collaboration with Inside Out Writers, and are working with volunteers from the Loyola Law School. They also plan to screen Beyond the Bricks for the students and have them discuss ways in which they can work toward solutions in their school and community.Below is our conversation.
BTBP: Can you describe the participants of this class?
PLS: Many of these students are students who've had repeat suspensions. The administration of Gompers Middle School chose students that they thought had leadership potential but need to reflect on their behavior. The class meets for one period every day. In total there are 30 students participating in two sections. They come in, sit in a circle and are led through their activity by a teacher, formerly incarcerated person, mentor, writer or law enforcement official. The majority of the children in this program are African-American and split 50-50 boys and girls.
BTBP: Who are the teachers spearheading the program? What do you think the impact of Beyond the Bricks was?PLS: There are two teachers who started this program. One of the teachers has always been passionate about the achievement rates of minority students. This led her to Beyond the Bricks when there was a local screening. She has really embraced this social justice issue. Aside from "Collective Voices" she works on this issue with her church and other community organizations. The other teacher actually runs the suspension program and has a relationship with all of the students in the class. We thought it would be a good idea to have him involved so that these children can work with him in a non-punitive role.
BTBP: What does this program hope to achieve?
PLS: We're hoping to see a decrease in suspensions for these students. We also want them to feel safe in school and class. One of the goals is to build trust and change their expectations; we want to help them navigate their lives in a different way. We want them to have self-efficacy and change any negative feelings they have about themselves. Students will assess their feelings and attitudes at the beginning and end of the program and we look forward to sharing that information with you. Lastly, we are very aware that we also need to work with the teachers about how they work with students who disrupt class. We need to work on what they can do to shift behavior.
BTBP: Do you have any thoughts for educators in other cities and towns that may want to implement a similar class in their school?
PLS: Find a way to get students who are leaders and trendsetters at the school. Find the students who are leading the trouble and help them transform so that they begin to lead the good behaviors. This is a life-skill that they'll need forever; the students should learn how their actions influence how people treat them. This is about self-awareness.Thank you Stephanie and Ryan! We look forward to hearing more about Collective Voices in the future.
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Did anyone watch #SlaveryByAnotherName last night on PBS? What'd you think?
"Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate..." - Malcolm X
RT@JHRCenter: Black Male Student Success in Higher Ed; a report by Prof Shaun Harper of U Penn http://works.bepress.com/sharper/43/today ib #leftofblack
Let's celebrate getting fit and staying healthy good luck to all of the Black Girls Rock running the Mercedes-Benz Marathon and Half this weekend in Bham!
anna smith @writerswriting See you there! @BeyondtheBricks: BTB film screening & NYU discussion in support of black male achievement. Tuesday.