Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

30Jan/140

I Am Sean Bell: Black Males and Families Speaking Out Against (Police) Violence

In the clip below, several boys reflect on the senseless violence that plagues too many of our communities, including - and especially - the aspects of the violence involving law enforcement. The clip is simultaneously sobering and encouraging.

Sobering because it's unconscionable that our children and families must learn how to deal with the kind of senseless violence that plays out in our community on a daily basis, too often inflicted by (and at the very least exacerbated by) counterproductive and extralegal law enforcement practices.

Encouraging because our youth, families and community advocates are becoming increasingly clear and vocal about the effects of this kind of domestic terrorism experience, and are demanding the community supports and activities that foster normal child and adolescent development, as well as the police reforms that genuinely make communities safer.

It's clear though, however you look at it, that there's serious work remaining for us. At the very least, we should all be creating time to share clips like this with family and friends, including an opportunity for collective discussion and reflection, and then committing to our own respective next steps so that we interrupt this pathology.

I Am Sean Bell
Stacey Muhammad, via Media that Matters

Young boys reflect on the Sean Bell tragedy, speaking out about their fears and hopes as they approach manhood in a city where the lives of young black men are often cut short.  June, 2010.

Discussing the making of the film, Stacey Muhammad shares...

First and foremost, I consider myself an activist, so I’m drawn to human issues and subjects that enlighten and uplift humanity while challenging us to examine our ideals and issues on this planet. I’ve always been drawn to documentary filmmaking, particularly as an activist. It’s a powerful way to communicate with an audience.

When I chose to do the Sean Bell film, I was extremely disturbed by the verdict and wanted to hear from the children, particularly young black boys, about their thoughts, fears and concerns regarding violence against black men. Most of the topics that interest me are those that give a voice to those often unheard populations of people, who indeed have stories to tell and victories to celebrate.

One thing that I’ve learned is that life is what it is - meaning, everything we do and experience is connected. Often, we try to compartmentalize our lives and deal with different aspects of our experience (be it our personal lives, our career, etc.). Filmmaking, for me, is a spiritual process and journey. I’ve been prepared through life experiences, for each and every topic I choose to explore.

So, my advice to any aspiring filmmaker would be to live your life with integrity, take care of yourself, learn as much about your craft as possible, commit to creating the life you desire and expect the universe to grant you everything you ask.

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