In 2015, amid growing visibility and media coverage of cases involving police brutality against African-Americans, the New York Times created a documentary titled, “A Conversation About Growing Up Black.” In this five-minute film, nine boys and men from the ages of ten to twenty-five are asked candid questions about their experiences as African-American males.
The film begins with Miles, age fourteen, attempting to give a definition of racism. He says, “Racism means a large part of a race feels that they are superior to another race…” The video then moves on to personal examples of racism and discrimination experienced by the group of nine, such as Bisa who recalled that when he was sixteen he would get harassed by police between classes. These narratives prompt a segment of the video dedicated to elaborating on the role of the police and what “freedom” means in American society. The piece ends with the youth retelling fond memories in which their parents gave them encouraging advice. Marvin, aged twenty-five, remembers his mother telling him “he needs to endure” despite hardships he might face while growing up Black.
What do you think prompted the creation of this documentary? What role do you think a news organization such asThe New York Timeshas in creating these types of documentaries?
How do the personal stories spoken of in this documentary relate to larger issues of racism and discrimination in American society?
Is there anything you would change about the video? What questions would you ask that weren’t? Whose voices were included and whose were not? Why is this important?