Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rough draft: grant application

So I'm sending in this grant application tonight.. here's some of the rough draft of writing..
I mean.. shoot.. why keep it in a notebook?
The question was
Please submit information on why you have chosen a specific cultural identifier, for example, Native American tribal affiliation, Tibetan refugee, Masai, and what that identifier means to you. If you do not come from a minority culture or indigenous community, please submit documentation that you have been designated to speak for such a culture or community.

This is rough draft .. so some things have yet to be worked out.

In this project we are speaking for children and young people within the African Diaspora. We speak as an aspect of young people of color. We are speaking for ourselves and opening a way for our stories and realities to be shown to ourselves, among ourselves, and the world at hand.

There is a disconnect between children of the African diaspora, in that we don't always accept one another. In general We do not always see ourselves as beautiful, as powerful, as important and necessary agents in the world. Young black people do not usually see empowering images of other young people in Africa, in South America, anywhere for that matter. Many do not even know there are black populations in places like Suriname, Japan, or Brazil.

The predominate narrative told of young people on the African continent is one of poverty, despair, and a heavy and almost insurmountable hopelessness. How do you fix a whole continent? (Africa is portrayed, as a whole place you know?)

Growing up in Memphis, TN I knew and continue to know many black people and young black who do not want to be associated with Africa. A lot of young black people, in pre-school, elementary, junior high, and high school on a certain level just do not want to be associated with that story and on a certain level why would you? It seems painful and those are faces like yours looking back at you on the numerous news channels or the paid infomercials for aid. If you're a child or a young person developing yourself or finding out what life is, why would you? It's deep. It's a very deep thing.

(Where can we confront ourselves? When do we stop running away? from our own face.)

Are these the stories of our lives as young black people, as people of color? Are these stories and these narratives that we see and don't see in popular media who we truly are? Of course not. We are vibrant. We are alive. We're wonderful on all sides of the diaspora, from Paris to Brazil to Memphis to Mozambique. Why doesn't popular media portray this? Where are stories that show our lives and our living in a positive light. The stories you see of yourself, what you believe to be your reflection consistently effects how you view yourself and what you believe of your possibility. What does popular media say of young people of color and young people in the diaspora? What are we to expect of ourselves given this? Given the images and stories that are available of us, what kinds of lives would we all be living? I think adults have a responsibility to make sure that young people aren't exploited in the varying ways that can happen. I think both the singular presence of bad stories on the lives of young people of color/Africans and the horrible absence I've personally seen and experienced of positive, empowering, and changemaking images, films, and narratives about the lives of children and young people of color is a travesty.

One problem is simply that most stories about Africa are about bad things that may be happening there. They are current issues from an adult's perspective.
The other factor is that news channels are mainly where stories about Africa and its people are found.
They aren't found on Nickelodeon. They aren't found on MTV and not to a great extent on BET, all places where you have substantial youth markets. To a great degree they are not found in American movie theatres and when they are the theme is usually some crisis.
Fundamentally, there is a lack of balance on stories about Africa. Most of the media about Africa is

1. News based
2. From an adult perspective
3. From a political perspective
4. About crisis, poverty, and pain

What a travesty that is, that all young people of color see of themselves is literally bad news.
We want and need for our health

1. Stories that are positive and talk about dreams and aspirations
2. Stories that engage individuals as opposed to blanketed conceptions of people
3.Stories from a child/young person's perspective
4. Stories from a storytelling, fantastic, magical perspective

It leaves room for so much. It leaves room for media that will humanize and give real stories about young people in Africa, in America, in South America, wherever. Real conceptions of brilliance and not simply cries for aid or assistance that tell us bad things about ourselves consistently. That's too heavy a load. No wonder young black children turn their nose up at Africa. Black children need fantasy and magic too...

On another note when I was in Senegal in 06 I often wondered what kind of things Senegalese people my age where exposed to about Black Americans. One of the first things I was asked by one of the young Senegalese I met was if I knew about "the thug life". And one of the movies we watched in French while I was there- painful for me I'll have you know- was a dubbed copy of Soul Plane. Can you imagine hearing them speak that movie in french? Geez friggin Louise, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. truth! thank god for some truth out here.