Urban

New Documentary About Cleveland Youth Advocacy and Arts Organization

Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Less than a year since being founded by 28-year-old law student and artist Amanda King, Shooting Without Bullets has developed a dedicated core of teens telling their stories through art.  Their stories will be showcased in Under Exposed, a documentary film.

King began Shooting Without Bullets as a response to the tumultuous local socio-political climate kickstarted by the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014. After she was named to the ensuing Cleveland Community Police Commission and serving on it for a year, King realized that it still fell short in communicating with portions of the population it was created to serve. 

“The way it was structured – very meeting-oriented, very recommendation-oriented – wasn’t conducive to interactions with teenagers in particular,” she says. 

This notion of invisibility and disconnection is echoed by the young people involved in the program.

“Some people acknowledge us, but for others it’s in one ear and out the other,” 16-year-old photographer Leilani Williams, a student at John Hay’s Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, comments. “Especially as black youth, we get pushed off so easily.”

“People shake us off like we’re not there or only acknowledge us for the bad things,” reiterates 20-year-old Charles Mosley, also a student at CSAD.

Follow the link to find out more about their work.

Binational art program empowers teens - #SayItWithoutShame

FOCUS: Binational Showcase is a binational arts program run by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Museo Tamayo take to the streets to work collaboratively in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City.   Courtesy photo

FOCUS: Binational Showcase is a binational arts program run by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Museo Tamayo take to the streets to work collaboratively in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. Courtesy photo

SAN DIEGO — At 17, Marissa Bennett admits her perception of violence is probably stereotypical.

“Physical violence,” she said. “That’s what I think of when I hear the word ‘violence.’ It’s what we see on TV, in video games and the movies.”

That changed when she became part of an arts program for youth on both sides of the border. Youth Empowerment through Social Practice Art: Strategies for Coping with Violence and Trauma is a partnership between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. The yearlong collaboration — funded by the Museums Connect program run by American Alliance of Museums — allowed teens to participate in online forums, artist lectures, community interactions and weeklong cross-border visits to explore how art can effect social change.

The results of the binational project will be presented in a three-day exhibition called “FOCUS: Binational Showcase” that opens Friday at MCASD’s downtown location.

“Violence is more than just the physical. It can be emotional violence, psychological violence,” said Bennett, who’s graduating from West Hills High School in Santee and headed for UCLA to pursue an art degree.

Bennett’s artwork — in her case, photography — will be among those featured in the exhibition that will showcase work by 22 teenagers from San Diego and Mexico City. The show will present art in various media, including video installations and sculptural works. A social media hashtag was employed, too: #sayitwithoutshame.

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Fresh Tracks Project Creates Cross Cultural Exchange for Native and Urban Youth

In August 2016, 16 young people from Los Angeles and Alaska will have the unique opportunity to get to know one another’s environments and culture through an exchange program called Fresh Tracks.

The program will provide participants with outdoor experiences, leadership skills, a sense of responsibility for protecting their public lands, and an appreciation of each others’ cultures. Youth from urban Los Angeles and Native Youth from the Arctic Circle communities will be among the young leaders to participate in this initiative. With support from IslandWood, the Sierra Club, the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders program, and others, the participants will spend three weeks together this summer in addition to receiving mentorship, and internship/job opportunities beyond the summer to create a lifetime impact.

Fresh Tracks is one of several projects announced by President Obama after his influential trip to Alaska in summer 2015. According to a C&NN article written by Juan Martinez:

“Many young Los Angeles residents and Alaska Native Youth face similar challenges, including high unemployment, drug abuse, and a lack of access to healthy food and parks, and higher education. At the same time, many of us are bound by shared aspirations, a desire to know the world and to make it better.”

We look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of this exchange! Click here for more.

What ‘white folks who teach in the hood’ get wrong about education

Columbia University associate professor Dr. Chris Emdin says the “white hero” narrative is setting up both teachers and students for failure. Photo courtesy of Diedre Reznik.

Columbia University associate professor Dr. Chris Emdin says the “white hero” narrative is setting up both teachers and students for failure. Photo courtesy of Diedre Reznik.

PBS News Hour, March 28, 2016 || By Kenya Downs

“There’s a teacher right now in urban America who’s going to teach for exactly two years and he’s going to leave believing that these young people can’t be saved,” says Dr. Chris Emdin, associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “So he’s going to find another career as a lawyer, get a job in the Department of Education or start a charter school network, all based on a notion about these urban youth that is flawed. And we’re going to end up in the same cycle of dysfunction that we have right now. Something’s got to give.”

Emdin, who is also the university’s associate director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, has had enough of what he calls a pervasive narrative in urban education: a savior complex that gives mostly white teachers in minority and urban communities a false sense of saving kids.

 

“The narrative itself, it exotic-izes youth and positions them as automatically broken,” he says. “It falsely positions the teacher, oftentimes a white teacher, as hero.”

He criticizes the “white hero teacher” concept as an archaic approach that sets up teachers to fail and further marginalizes poor and minority children in urban centers. In “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood … and the Rest of Y’all Too,” his new book released this month, Emdin draws parallels between current urban educational models and Native American schools of the past that measured success by how well students adapted to forced assimilation. Instead, he calls for a new approach to urban education that trains teachers to value the unique realities of minority children, incorporating their culture into classroom instruction. I talked with him about the book and why he says the stakes are too high to continue with the status quo. 

Click here to learn more.