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October 5, 2012
The new documentary film “Hoodwinked” is making the rounds at many historically black college campuses nationwide, and it has students talking. “Hoodwinked” challenges many of the negative statistics and reports that have been released over the years about African Americans, especially black men. The film was shown at Baltimore City Community College last week. In this report, WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn talks to the film’s producer and with BCCC African-American students who saw it.
Janks Morton: What I’m going to do is clear through some truths of what black men and women look like to try to renew what you think about what we are.
Gwendolyn Glenn: That’s a clip of filmmaker, Janks Morton, taken from his documentary “Hoodwinked.” Morton says too often positive statistics about African Americans are overlooked in reports, while negative and inaccurate ones are constantly used to define the race. In the film Morton has news anchors reading real headlines to make that point. Film: More black men in prison today than enslaved in 1850-beep-More black men live in prison cells than college dorms-beep- black males lacking diplomas-beep.
Glenn: Morton points to federal statistics that show more than 82 percent of African-American men have high school diplomas or GEDs. And contrary to some claims, more than 1.4 million African-American men are in college versus about 800 thousand in jail.
Morton: The overall message of Hoodwinked is to say that things are probably not as traumatic as you would believe.
Glenn: Morton contends that statistics are sometimes manipulated by groups because the worse a problem seems the more funding they can attract. Data is also compiled and interpreted differently by various sources. Morton believes the data manipulation hurts African Americans’ self-esteem, such as these college students in the film.
Morton: Name a positive stereotype about black people.
Students: Can’t really think of one Name a positive stereotype about blacks. We can jump. I have no idea. Is there any positive stereotype about black people? Blacks are athletes. Yeah, we can jump high, we can run fast. I have to think about it and that’s sad.
Jamil Shabazz: I would hope that particular scene in the movie will inspire somebody to find something positive to say about themselves.
Glenn: BCCC student Jamil Shabazz says his family made sure he and other relatives heard positive things about their race growing up. But he says a young cousin still ended up in jail and he blames negative stereotypes that he was able to navigate around, but his cousin was not.
Shabazz: If you are being told that you’re not intelligent, you’re not going to achieve anything, if you are weak minded, you’ll eventually begin to believe that if you don’t have positive reinforcement to something different.
Glenn: Psychologist Rasheed Bonner says more research is needed to determine how negative portrayals of African Americans are affecting black students.
Rasheed Bonner: When we talk about the direct impact on students, every child is different so it’s possible for a child to hear the data and they can go from embarrassment to indifference and on the other end of the spectrum we can have students with increased motivation from hearing these statistics.
Glenn: BCCC student Shantwan Smith says she feels hurt when she hears negative reports about African Americans. She doesn’t let it hold her back but says many other people hear the reports and give up.
Shantwan Smith: I know too many people that are like that that have taken this mentality that ok they say this is what I am so this is what I’ll be, conforming to what people expect rather than being an outsider and doing things for themselves.
Glenn: For BCCC engineering major Pierce Perkins, Hoodwinked was a confidence booster. It also gave him the idea of asking two specific questions for the opening meeting of a new socio-anthropology club on campus he helped initiate.
Pierce Perkins: Before anything, we are going to ask who are you and can you name one positive stereotype about African Americans. We’re going to try and spread the message around so we can get everybody to realize they have value and they should be proud of their skin color.
Glenn: Other students are also asking those questions around campus, so if asked they will have answers.
Shabazz: Can you name a positive stereotype about blacks?
Glenn: I’m Gwendolyn Glenn reporting in Baltimore for 88 1 WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at email@example.com.
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