RBTV spent a few minutes with filmmakers JOE BREWSTER & MICHÈLE STEPHENSON to discuss what the idea of a "post-racial" society means for Millenials and how it relates to their award-winning documentary AMERICAN PROMISE, which is available now on DVD from Docurama/Cinedigm.
AMERICAN PROMISE spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan's Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America's struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity.
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Fascinated with the idea of documenting the experience of minority students, including their own young son, at an exclusive private school, Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson began a film project. After a few years, they stopped when their son began to feel socially isolated and singled out for concerns about underperformance. Next, they embarked on an exploration of why their son and so many other black boys struggled in school. The result is a penetrating look at the standard practices, at school and at home, that contribute to the achievement gap between the races and the sexes that seems to put black boys at a disadvantage. They debunk myths and offer 10 parenting and education strategies to improve the prospects for black boys to help them overcome racial stereotypes and low expectations, from preconception and prenatal health care through preschool, from grades K–12 through life skills, including the Trayvon Martin lesson. This is a practical and insightful look at the particular challenges of raising black males. --Vanessa Bush