Reviewing the American Promise

unnamed Tanya Calvin Yesterday, Latin hosted a screening of “American Promise,” a documentary that follows two black boys in New York through their educational journey at Dalton School. Idris and Seun experienced what many minorities at Latin have; there were some of the only students of color in their grade. The discussion after the movie brought up many interesting points, including the importance of mentorship and the isolation that many students feel regardless of a school’s efforts. I can say from personal experience that, despite some beliefs, race does matter and it does affect how someone feels in certain environments. Now, that’s not to say that being colored in a white community is always a nightmare. In fact, Idris struggled more with the people on his neighborhood basketball team. He felt the need to change the way he spoke and force himself to include slang to fit in with his black teammates who made fun of him for “talking white.” As a teenager, Idris asked his parents “wouldn’t I be better off if I was white?” Even though the question was in a context some might not take very seriously (he was talking about never having kissed a girl), this heart wrenching scene presented the harsh realities of social situations he had to face. Seun, on the other hand, struggled with the academics at Dalton. He wasn’t welcomed back for high school because he failed one of his classes in the eighth grade.  Although he ended up being a lot happier at the public school he went to, his case brought up the problem of his lack of support from Dalton. He was being tutored, but didn’t seem to have anybody besides his parents to help him with his emotional frustration. He made comments about how much he hated school and would be better off somewhere else, and it’s interesting that Dalton didn’t do more to fix that. That brought up the topic of pressures and their sources. From school, parents, peers, it all builds up for students of every race, but adding on the pressure of being one of a handful of black students in their grade became, at times, too much for Seun and Idris. We’ll never know all of the details of what Seun and Idris went through from a two hour movie, but the thought is something that everyone at Latin needs to consider for all minorities. We have BSU, the Cause, ASA, LASO, LAW, and other affinity groups that are support systems but it’s important that the conversations that happen during those meeting carry out into what happens every day at Latin. It’s not always easy to look at ourselves and think about our mistakes, what comments we make that could possibly be hurtful, or things we do that could stem from prejudice, but it’s imperative if Latin is going to be a truly safe place for everyone.]]>