\xe2\x80\x98If You Think You Know Who We Are, Take a Closer Look'

Oct 27, 2010

By Jenice R. Robinson

Angel Armando Perez of Hartford, Conn., says he began skipping school because he could earn up to $300 a week bagging groceries, a relatively small amount but a sum that can mean a lot for a young person living in a low-income household with finite resources.

To stereotype him or make assumptions about his life may be expedient, but it wouldn't accurately represent who he is and what he wants for his life. In Their Own Words, a short video produced by CLASP senior policy analyst Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt in partnership with Forwardever Media, profiles Perez and three other young men of color who grew up in distressed communities and faced obstacles to completing high school.  The video attempts to dispel pernicious stereotypes about young men of color and demonstrate that not only do these young men want to finish school and access employment, but they can succeed when given the opportunity.

As the video's young, male narrator says, "If you think you know who we are, take a closer look." Each young man tells a different story that illustrates his challenges and triumphs.

Antonio Howe of Baltimore, Md., says he began skipping school during his junior year because of a confluence of tragic events at home, including a home invasion in which his uncle was killed and his mother shot four times. Donnell Chapman, also of Baltimore, Md., was expelled because the school determined he was in a brawl with a number of other students.  And Kendrick Campbell of Eudora, Ark., finished high school but had to drop out of college to work when he found out he was going to be a father at age 17.

While their stories are diverse, what they all have in common is the desire to make the most of their lives. With the help of a local Youth Opportunity program, each earned a high school diploma, GED or received employment training. Read more>>


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