This past Wednesday, I went to the ICE theatre at 3330 W. Roosevelt to see the documentary American Promise. The movie follows two young African-American boys through their grammar school years at an exclusive prep school in New York City.
Both boys come from a two-parent household with involved fathers in their lives. Yet they both struggle academically in comparison to their white counterparts. After eighth grade, only one continues on in the prep school for high school while the other attends a predominantly African-American public high school.
The essence of the film is about black boys and how they deal with life, school, racism, poor self-esteem, and the myriad of other problems heaped upon them as they grow up in this country. Several scenes in the movie were almost as if they had been taken out of my life when I used to battle with my son as he inconsistently performed in high school.
Most telling are the scenes where the one boy is unable to articulate his issues even though he is well-spoken. It was a very eye-opening moment to know that I was not alone in dealing with a hard-headed boy whose response when probed and prodded for answers was always, “Forget about it.” How can parents deal with issues bothering their child when the child won’t address them and then proceeds to retreat into his cocoon?
Almost 30 years ago, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu wrote a book titled, Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, and has been one of the most vocal individuals expressing his concern since that time.
Today it is Dr. Umar Johnson speaking out on the same issue. When we look at the ages of the young men committing some of the most heinous crimes, we must also pay attention to their ages. Mid-teens to mid-20s are the ages we see most often.
They come from the very age group that Dr. Kunjufu told us about 30 years ago. The warning signs are there staring us directly in our faces — if only we would pay attention to them.
Our young black boys are struggling to fit into a world that is increasingly telling them they don’t have a place. Add to the fact that many of those boys are being parented by a single young mother, ill-prepared to raise a child alone.
They often have an absentee father who contributes little to the process, and the village/relative “support system” that should be there is worn out from supporting so many.
All told, we have a perfect recipe for disaster. I want and need everyone to add their voices to showing concern for black boys.
We need a presidential executive order to immediately address these issues and implement solutions like those offered by Dr. Umar Johnson.
Lastly, please make an effort to actively support the ICE Theatre on Roosevelt Road. It is black-owned and has enough screens to not only show the current new movies but also focus on small independent films that struggle to get venues in which they can be seen.
Speaking of small independent film festivals, the Reparations Film Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 11066 S. Michigan Ave., second floor. Four films will be featured with intermissions/discussions following.
The films are Sankofa, Slavery by Another Name, Payback: A Reparations Story, and The Durban 400. The cost is a mere $5.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.
—Martin Luther King Jr.