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May 2012 Newsletter

CREATE TOMORROW'S LEADERS. SUPPORT THE BEYOND THE BRICKS FELLOWS INSTITUTE.
 
50K in 40 days campaign 
Helping to create tomorrow's leaders 
 
This summer, two young men from each of the Beyond the Bricks Project Community Producers Program cities will be selected to spend one week learning from mentors and experts in media about community advocacy, expanding their educational trajectories, leadership, civic engagement, and personal well-being. They will dive deeper into their media campaigns (that they will have begun during the Beyond the Bricks Community Producers Program) around issues they want to address in their communities. They will produce their campaigns by learning current and emerging trends in digital and social media community advocacy, conducting detailed research, interviewing community members, academics and local business leaders and creating a detailed plan for their campaign. The boys will leave the institute with a media-based community advocacy campaign that they have designed, along with plans for their continued education and a scholarship for implementing their campaigns and furthering their education. This opportunity can only happen with support from donors like yours!
   
Throughout the ensuing year, the young men will receive mentorship and support for implementing their campaigns and furthering their education. They will be invited back to the 2013 Fellows Institute to present their campaigns and discuss their educational experiences over the last year with the next round of Fellows. In 2014, they will then have the opportunity to become instructors in the Beyond the Bricks Community Producers Program.
 
Our goal is to raise $50,000 in 40 days and we can’t succeed without your help. Please visit the Indiegogo campaign page to donate.
Word of mouth is a powerful thing - help us spread the word by sharing this on your social media sites, telling your friends and family about it and sending this to your email contact list. If you’d like to become involved in the Beyond the Bricks Fellows Institute or the Beyond the Bricks Project as a whole, email our Communications Associate, Abena at a.agyemang@beyondthebricksproject.com.
 
 
 
Meet two of our Beyond the Bricks Community Producers 
Joshua Jackson (Atlanta)
 
"Josh has been present and active from day one of Beyond The Bricks.  He is a thoughtful and eager contributor with many talents to offer.  He is a visual artist, rapper, poet, and experienced digital storyteller having edited sports videos for classmates at Booker T. Washington.  He's been patient with our process and walks from school everyday to get to the program.  We are lucky that he's with us in addition to his numerous other activities" - Michael Molina, Instructor
 
Brandon Taylor (Jackson)
"Brandon Taylor received recognition for his perfect attendance during the first two months on the program.  He was dedicated and completed all of his projects during the first month of the BTB Program"- Dennis Daniels, Instructor
 
 
 
Trayvon...
 
On April 11th, 2012 the wheels of justice began to turn and George Zimmerman was finally charged with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. We can only hope that the prosecutors, judge and jury involved in this case will do the best they can to make sure that justice is served. We will also hope that those making inflammatory, racist and biased comments about Trayvon and his hard-working parents face the consequences of their irresponsible speech. Below are two examples of people in influential positions being held accountable:
 
Miami fireman says that urban youth and ignorant, pathetic parents are to blame for Trayvon's death.
New Orleans Police Officer says "Act like a thug, die like one"
 
Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from responsibility and consequences. Let’s continue to have responsible conversation around this story and hold those who stray accountable. 
 
While we're on the topic of responsible speech, let's do more to discuss and combat the violence that plagues black boys daily. The violence in Chicago this year has risen to new heights. Most of the victims and perpetrators have been black males. Check out this link to track the homicides that have taken over Chicago: http://homicides.redeyechicago.com/
 
According to the FBI website on crime statistics, in 2010 (the last year of complete statistics available) there were roughly 640,000 African Americans (49.8% of all homicides) murdered in the US in 2010. Let's hold ourselves responsible and accountable for this behavior and do our best to make sure it ends.
 
 
 
Recent news
 
The W.K.Kellogg Foundation invited BTBP Co-Executive Director, Ouida Washington to the America Healing Conference in New Orleans. The America Healing Conference is a gathering of community leaders working toward racial equity. The conference opened with a rousing 45-minute speech from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu , who spoke passionately about the plight of black males in light of the Trayvon Martin case. He said that over the last year, more than 7,000 black males were killed; 90% by gun violence with over 80% of perpetrators being other black males. This is the movement we all need to rally around: stopping our young men from devaluing themselves and others' lives while jeopardizing entire communities. You will undoubtedly hear more from us on this topic because it is one of the pressing issues that we all must tackle!
The focus of the conference was the upcoming national presidential election and how important it is to get out and vote considering the widespread attempts at voter suppression. It was great to know that so many leaders are working to protect these rights, but we were definitely charged with making sure we spread the word that voting is crucial! Ouida left New Orleans feeling very much a part of a community of people who are working toward making a difference in everyone’s lives.
 
 
 
The American Education Research Association (AERA) Conference was held in Vancouver, BC, Canada from April 13 - 17. Our program manager, Dana E. Salter, attended "Breaking Barriers: The Quest for Excellence among School-age black and Latino Males" panel presentation. Long time BTBP collaborators, Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz and Dr. Ivory Toldson, presented, along with Dr. Chance Lewis (UNCC), Dr. Shaun R. Harper (UPenn), Dr. Lorenzo L. Esters (APLU), and Dr. James Moore (OSU). Presentations and conversations focused on three key points. First, what have we already learned about reframing the narratives about Black and Latino male achievement? Second, what kinds of community and institutional supports and practices are needed to promote an environment and mindset for positive Black and Latino male engagement? Finally, how do we get the recent research and conversations to a wider non-academic audience? Dr. Sealy-Ruiz noted that BTBP had done many town hall meetings in an effort to disseminate research and promote solutions-based conversations about Black male education. She then invited Dana to talk briefly about the Community Producers program. Dana noted that in the 2nd year, the program will work with four more universities in the USA and has begun conversations with community organizations in Montreal and Toronto, Canada.
 
It was a great evening; the speakers and poster presentations energized us all as we move forward in this work.  We at Beyond the Bricks Project appreciate Dr. Ivory Toldson and Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz for including us in the presentation.
Take a look at Dr. Shaun Harper's new report "Black Male Student Success in Higher Education: A report from the National Black Male Achievement Study"
 
 
 
 
Upcoming events
 
 
Black Male Development Symposium
Saturday, May 12, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
www.http://blackmaledevelopment.com/
215-572-8510
Online registration has ended but there are limited onsite registrations available. Please call in advance. Adult on-site registration fee - $50. Student on-site registration fee - $40
 
 
 
We are very proud to announce that Shaquiel Ingram, the young man from the Beyond the Bricks documentary film will graduate from high school next month in Newark!! We will celebrate this milestone with Shaquiel before he heads off to college. We will provide more information in next months newsletter - please stay tuned.
 
 
 
Our Community Producers will be graduating from the Produce! Create! Innovate! Media Literacy Program this summer. We’ll include more information on their graduations in the next newsletter. In the meantime, check up on our boys by visiting the Community Producers page.
 
 
 
 
Beyond the Bricks store
 
Don't forget, the Beyond the Bricks Film and discussion guides are available! We're also offering a special discount for school districts that want to use the film and guides to address the achievement gap. Please visit the Beyond the Bricks Store for more info on the film and discussion guides.
 
 
 
 
Parental responsibility
 
Here at Beyond the Bricks, we encourage all stakeholders to be a part of the process in increasing educational outcomes for black males. The participants of our town halls across the county have included students, educators, policy-makers, government officials, parents and community members. In the past few newsletters, we’ve focused on how educators and policy-makers have impacted the education of black males. This month we shift the focus to parents; we’d like to discuss the role parents play in their son’s successes.  Over the past few months we’ve come across articles detailing the successes and problems that parents of black kids face.
 
Issues in providing a good education
In the past two years, there have been two women who have been sentenced for sending their children to better schools outside of their district.
Kelly Bolar is a teaching assistant and mother from Akron, Ohio who, last year, was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on two years probation after sending her kids to a school in a district in which they did not live. The 40-year-old single mother sent her children to the school in her father’s neighborhood because she believed that they would get a superior education to the one they would receive in their district.
More recently, Tonya McDowell, a homeless woman from Bridgeport, CT was charged and sentenced for grand larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny after enrolling her son in Brookside Elementary in Norwalk, CT. After being evicted from her housing project, she used her friend’s address so that she would be able to send her son to a good school. The government didn’t see eye to eye with her, they believe that she stole $15,686 worth of education from the city of Norwalk.
 
When it comes to providing a good education for our children, parents should be given the information, freedom and tools necessary to achieve that goal. It is time to end laws that penalize and arrest parents for accessing great public schools for their children. It is also time to ensure that ALL children have access to a great education.
 
It can be argued that this struggle has been going on for a long time. Brown v. Board of Education declared that separate but equal education for black and white students was unconstitutional. Because of the tendency for neighborhoods to be segregated and many states’ insistence on using property taxes to fund public schools, one could argue that we now have separate and unequal public schools. 
This blog post by Jen Chau is a great explanation of the history and current issues pertaining to educational inequality in the United States.
School choice, what the mothers we discussed above would have been able to benefit from, is often proposed as a solution to this problem. Many believe that competition among schools can solve the problems of poor student achievement, inequity, and government bureaucracy. School choice provides a variety of enrollment options for children, such as charter schools, voucher programs, district/school open enrollment and tax credits/deductions. People who support school choice believe that when parents become consumers of education, schools will compete, forcing public schools to improve student academic performance or risk closure.
 
Punishment
There are several parents who are at their wits end and aren’t sure how else they can get their boys to improve their grades, attitudes and behavior. Many parents strive to teach their children the right way to live and the path they should take yet they choose the perilous paths that lead to destruction, jail, addiction and even death. Over the past year, several parents have used pubic humiliation as a means to correct their sons’ actions.
 
In January of this year, Dynesha Lax of Fort Wayne forced her 14-year-old son to stand on a busy street for two hours with a massive sign hanging from his neck, which read, "I lie, I steal, I sell drugs, I don't follow the law."  Earlier this month, in Miami, Michael Bell Sr. had his son stand on a street corner for the entirety of his spring break with a sign that read "Hey, I want to be a class clown. Is it wrong?" on the front, while the back read "Hey, I'm in the 7th grade and I have an F for the semester. Is anything wrong with that? Blow your horn if you don't think so. Thank you!!!"
 
Ronda Holder of Florida made her son stand at a busy street corner every day for up to four hours holding a sign that describes his poor academic performance. It described his refusal to take a standardized test, lists his GPA is 1.22 and prompts the public to honk if they think he needs an education. Ronda tried everything and doesn't blame the teachers and the school; she felt that her son should take responsibility for his own lack of motivation regarding his education. We could go on and on listing the public humiliation tactics that parents have used when they feel like nothing else has worked. There was a recent article in the Huffington Post that details more of these cases.
 
Below are some commenter reactions to these public humiliation punishments:
I'm usually against any form of humiliation as motivation or otherwise but if she's truly tried taking everything else away maybe this will finally work. Not all kids respond the same way to different punishments. And one thing, he can't say is that his momma doesn't love him -- she's out there standing with him. He may not like her right now but she certainly loves him. - fratricide08
 
Public humiliation as a pedagogical tool? Yes, very sound method ... in the medieval times! - keep it solid
 
This is a bit extreme but perhaps this might be the necessary push this mother needs to make in order to keep her son out of the morgue. A mother trying to save her child from a prison sentence. I love it. Although my sons are grown, from the time they became young adults I told them, if you do the crime you WILL do the time even if I have to drop the dime!!!! If this child continues to get in trouble after this at least this mom can rest easy, because she did everything she could to give him a better way. - Supporter
 
MRS. LAX...Public humiliation is not the answer. When this young man is older, he will never forgive you for this. Have you considered that your son is depressed, bipolar, or has some other disorder that has gone unchecked? Most kids who commit crimes have disorders. How do you discipline your son? Has it been with harsh words and ranting of "Useless, lazy, bad, worthless," etc? Most kids who commit crimes come from homes where the parents have verbally beaten (And a lot of times physically), beaten any sense of worth out of a child. What your child needs and what WILL WORK are positive interventions. If you are unaware of this type of discipline, I would read up on it. In addition, a good psychiatrist at this point might be helpful. Because your son is now in a transition in his developmental stage, this is one of the toughest times to reach him.  Public humiliation will only serve to drive him further into believing he is worthless and if he is convinced of this, he will never try to be anything else. - Allicat4u2
 
Overall, the comment sections in the articles about this type of punishment supported the parents. Many believed that the parents were doing the right thing in order to prevent the children from doing something worse in the future. However, not all was positive. Some are worried that this is a form of psychological abuse that will cause a strain on the parent-child relationship or cause the child to do something worse later on. There was also the concern that these kids may be suffering from some sort of psychological disorder that is being ignored by the parents.
What do you think? Stop by our Facebook page and let us know what you think about public humiliation as a tool to get our children back on track.
 
 
 
It seems as though parents feel like their options are limited and risk jail time in order to get their kids into better schools with more resources. For parents whose children have already chosen the worse paths they are struggling to find ways in which they can correct poor behavior. Thankfully there are several support organizations around the county that help parents provide better opportunities for their kids.
Parent Revolution: Its mission is to transform public education by empowering parents to transform their under-performing schools through community organizing. 
Connecticut Parents Union: Helps parents work with policy-makers and social justice advocates for educational reform.
A Better Chance: This organization works with minority youth to increase their opportunities, both academically and vocationally. 
Education Law Center (Pennsylvania): ELC is a nonprofit, legal advocacy organization that provides many free services such as representing parents and children in lawsuits that seek important reforms. 
National Black Child Development Institute: Its mission is to advance the lives of Black children and their families through advocacy and education. 
Parents of African American Children (CA): This network helps parents meet up and provide recreational and social activities for their children so that they can build healthy friendships and be surrounded by positive role models. 
Black Star Community PTA (Chicago)
League of Black Parents
Parent University
 
Beyond the Bricks Project partner, Dr. Christopher Emdin of Columbia University wrote an insightful article for the Huffington Post that provides tips for parents’ involvement in the education of their children. Alternative methods of communication with the school, providing an environment conducive to learning and working with other parents are some of the advice he gives. You can read the article here.
 
Take our SURVEY about these parent issues. We'd love to know what you think!
You can share any issues or success stories with us on Twitter, Facebook or by emailing us at info@beyondthebricksproject.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
 
 
 
 
 
Partner spotlight
This month we speak with Dr. Doreen Loury, Director of the Black Male Development Symposium and Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Arcadia University about the upcoming Black Male Development Symposium, Beyond the Bricks Project and parental involvement.
 
BTBP: Can you talk about how you got connected to Beyond the Bricks Project; you even recorded a video for us in Philadelphia.  Do you think that sense of community addressing the issues is still an important mechanism for change? 
DL: I think, it was through Open Society Institute.  OSI is one of our funders; they contacted Ouida and she called me. I wanted to make the Beyond the Bricks Town Hall a pre-symposium event but the symposium was cancelled because of construction the first time around. We ended up collaborating with the Community College of Philadelphia later and held a Beyond the Bricks event as a community event/town meeting.
In regards to the 2nd part of the question, I think the challenge is that the community has become afraid of these young men. One of the things I always talk about  is that  you can’t help and love anything that you're afraid of. We’re still in denial of what is going on with these young men.  Our young men have been mis-educated by the educational system, mis-handled by the social criminal justice system, mis-labeled by the mental health system and mis-treated by the social welfare system and they’ve become rejects of society. We as a community are not willing to open our arms and help them. We have to get together as a community and try to figure out what we can do to help them and for them to realize that we’re in their corner. We should walk down the street and not be afraid of them.
 
BTBP: On May 12, you'll be hosting the Black Male Development Symposium. How long have you been running this symposium? How did the symposium get started? What were the goals when you first started? Have those goals changed over time?
DL: This is the 7th one, it was part of a bigger national event under the guidance of Patrick Oliver and Haki Madhubutti. They came to me in 2004 and asked me to do it in Philadelphia; sadly, we're the only one that is still standing. We have between 1,000 through 1,100 people attend each year.
 
You know, I used to do this kind of conference for girls but around the time Patrick and Haki contacted me, I started seeing what was happening to my grandsons while walking down the street and the harm that they faced everyday. This made me become more focused on black males. I wanted to help these young men that were like my grandsons. It was providence... here was a chance for me to do something. I had to run with it.
 
Our overall goal has not changed. Our goal is to provide a safe forum; a place where we can have real conversation, not scientific pontification. Where we can talk about the challenges that African American males face and then come up with strategies and solutions to help them and the community at large.
 
BTBP: This month, we're talking about parental responsibility and involvement in their son’s success. Have parents been a big part in the black male development symposium? Are there any recurring themes or issues you hear from them?
DL: I'm a sociologist by trade, so I always make sure we get feedback after the symposium. Parents have been asking for more workshops that are more connected to them. This year we have a Parents Institute that will have workshops on homework help, special education, aggressive behavior and working with the school in coming up with a plan to help their child's behavior. We will also have workshops on what needs to be done in order to help a college bound person and how to be a better advocate for your child in school.
 
BTBP: Is there any advice you want to offer parents or can you recommend any resources they should be taking advantage of?
DL: I always tell parents, in their community there should be a YMCA or mentoring programs. They should look at fraternities or sororities for services they provide as well as a Concerned Black Men chapter in their city or town. They have to do some homework and they need to listen to their kids.
 
They need to be on Facebook and Twitter with their kids. If they're not on Facebook and Twitter they're missing out on half of their kid's life. We've allowed technology to become the parent, we need to be as engaged in technology as they are. We really need to listen to them, it's hard because the kids don't want to be bothered with it but we need to be persistent. We need to make sure that they're sharing information with us.
 
Also, children learn from other people's actions, so we have to be an example. You have to ask yourself, would your child want you as a friend? They're stuck with you as a parent.
 
BTBP: Is there anything else you'd like to let our readers know?
DL: I would love for them to come to the Black Male Development Symposium. We'll have over 50 workshops, a black film festival with all kinds of movies. There'll be a barbershop talk including attorneys, radio personalities and government officials.  We'll also have a health fair and literary pavilion with authors from all over the country. It's a full day but it's a great day.
 
Online registration has ended but there are limited walk-in spots available. Please call 215-572-8510 ahead of time. If you can't make it to the Symposium this month, there is yearly programming for you to take advantage of.
 
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to speak with us Dr. Loury. We wish you much success with this year's Black Male Development Symposium.
 
 
TweetBeat!
 
Follow us @BeyondtheBricks
  
 
Beyond The Bricks @BeyondTheBricks‬
@iumetccolumbia way to represent! Hope the presentation went well. We can't wait to hear about it.
 
Beyond The Bricks ‏ @BeyondTheBricks‬
"A tailored suit does not mean innocence, nor do sagging pants or a hoodie mean guilt."
 
Deric Muhammad @DericMuhammad‬
We need a new political party called The "Common Sense-ocrats"
 
Beyond The Bricks @BeyondTheBricks‬
 
@truthout @Buzzflash We sure hope it is. It's time for legislators to write legislation again. #ALEC needs to bow out.

 ​

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. 

Trayvon...

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 a.agyemang@beyondthebricksproject.com. 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 a.agyemang@beyondthebricksproject.com

Upcoming Events

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.

Donate!

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

Scholar Review

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.

 

BTB Impact

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.

 

Upcoming Events

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

 

Donate!

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.

 

Suspension

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.

 

Partner Spotlight

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.