Thursday, February 15, 2007

Reflecting Black: Young People's Self-Portrayals

A new five-minute film, "A Girl Like Me," made by teenagers (Reelworks) and posted to YouTube is amazing. Thoughtful young women examine the constraints of color, culture and self-presentation by talking about their understandings of and feelings about the images, stereotypes, and expectations for Black women that circulate in broader USAmerican society, daily life and in their own families. They also reproduce a classic developmental psychology doll experiment with children. The disturbing, if unsurprising, results include the preference among Black children for the white doll and its associations with goodness and beauty. Brilliantly, however, these young filmmakers conclude by claiming how their intervention is to consciously love themselves against these odds. (Powerful stuff, you must watch it to the end!)

Another short film should (and does) accompany "Black Girl" on the site: Similarly, "A Boy Like Me," with a young Bill Cosby, examines children's artwork, invokes classic child psychology studies, and demonstrates, quite cogently, that children's artwork of the period reflected more than merely self-esteem and a sense of security (or lack thereof), rather it revealed, in the case of Black children's artwork, a (woefully nuanced) understanding of social inequality and anti-Black racist violence.

My impulse is to poem.
(ancient Greek: ποιεω (poieo) = I create)
The night is long, and the struggle intense,
but we will prevail against the darkness
of ignorace and hopelessness
cast as nature's way,
because we continue to love
the daylight of our own humanity
to which we will awake

Sombra Morena

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