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March for Our Lives: A Wide Angle Collaborative Reflection

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

The anecdotes below offer varied perspectives from Wide Angle Youth Media staff, students, and board as they reflect on the March 24th, 2018 March for Our Lives against gun violence.

 

WIDE ANGLE YOUTH: Brandon’s Story

On Saturday, March 24th, 2018 Wide Angle Youth Media students marched with over 800,000 individuals determined to put an end to gun violence, an issue that that has affected our community and even our schools. Youth from all over the United States shared with the world heartbreaking stories of how they, their friends and families have been victims of gun violence and how it affects them to this day. As someone who lost their brother to gun violence, I understand the challenges we have to go through in order to cope with our losses. Growing up in a Black community, you get used to the idea of people of color dropping like flies because it becomes second nature. The point of protests is so we can end the toe tags, make our community safer, make our schools safer and eliminate the fear of death from the youth’s development.

Growing up I wasn’t really worried about gun violence because for some reason everyone grows up with the cliche mindset that “it will never happen me”. We say it like the world revolves around us and our family members, and we are forever protected from the elements, but that changed fast for me. Three years ago we received a phone call that was NEVER expected to be heard. A phone call saying,”Your brother is dead”. At that point, I didn’t know what do, didn’t know what to say, all I know was that I couldn’t move as anger and anxiety rushed through my veins.

As soon as I pulled myself together, I was eager to find out what happened to him. I asked what happened and I get a reply saying,” He was shot five times, once in the leg, twice in the stomach, once in the chest, and once in the head”. We need to end gun violence, so innocent people like my brother won’t be left bleeding on the street, so families don’t get that heartbreaking phone call stating that their loved one is dead. Let’s put an end to gun violence. Let’s put an end to the pain and suffering. Let’s make our schools and communities safe.

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

WIDE ANGLE STAFF: Tia’s Story

Two days before the March for Our Lives was scheduled to take place in D.C., I heard word that Mayor Pugh would provide buses for 3,000 youth in Baltimore City to attend the march. I thought, “Not. Interested.” Why? Well, throughout history just about every march in Washington has been co-opted, from the original March on Washington in 1963 to the 2017 Women’s March.

Putting my thoughts aside, I asked my students if they wanted to meet me at 8 am on the first day of their spring break to attend the March for Our Lives. To my surprise 4 students raised their hands.

“Great…,” I thought with full sarcasm intended. But as we walked through the streets of D.C., I felt an overwhelming urge to cry. There were so many people supporting the resilience and courage of youth, and I was glad that my babies (as I lovingly call them) had the opportunity to witness it all.

But, those feel good feelings were short lived as young, predominantly white youth standing on the National Archives began to not only talk, but yelled and laughed as Zion Kelly remembered his twin brother, Zaire, whom was shot and killed on his way home from his college prep class. Every time a non-POC child spoke the crowd yelled, clapped, and cheered. But when any child of color spoke, members of the crowd would fidget and talk; their actions alone silenced the voices of black and brown youth.

The young people that were with me didn’t seem to share my experience, but on the bus ride back to Baltimore two of the chaperones and I spoke about the clear manifestations of systemic racism that we observed. We felt, simply, that this was not a march for our lives.

Watching this behavior reminded me of my childhood. While I didn’t experience gun violence, I am the daughter of a drug addict. I spent the majority of my childhood in drug houses and prison visitation rooms. I witnessed how the crack epidemic ravaged my community. Anyone that walked our streets could tell that the War on Drugs was killing people and destroying families, but no one walked our streets. No one heard our cries.

Flash forward, and suddenly the War on Drugs that ravaged my family and childhood, when no one seemed to care, is now a public health crisis? The anger that Black Americans feel as a result of being categorically ignored, silenced, and dehumanized is real and should be acknowledged and validated.

The one thing that the March for Our Lives did well was center students of color, who have served as canaries in the proverbial coal mine, and allowed them to speak to the damage gun violence is causing in their communities. The audience may not have listened, but youth of color, even if just in that moment, were heard.

While standing with aching knees amidst a sea of white, I heard time and time again the demands of the young activists: keep the NRA out of politics, ban bump stocks, and create safer schools. Feelings aside, what do these solutions have to do with the violence that black and brown children around the nation experience everyday? Nothing. According to my experience and nearly every article and solution that came out of the march, this was just another March for White Lives. People of color and co-conspirators must show up, stand up, change the rhetoric, and focus their energies on changing the systems that prevent the liberation of black and brown children across the nation.

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

WIDE ANGLE BOARD: William’s Story

I watched news coverage of the Columbine shooting in real time on a TV in class my Senior Year of High School. The entire school was transfixed on the horror of kids murdering other kids with guns en masse at school. We all thought, and some of us voiced, that it could never happen at our school, in our town. We were almost entirely Black and Brown kids and we felt safe from that kind of gun violence.

Fast forward to the March For Our Lives almost 2 decades later prompted by another HS gun massacre, my HS still hadn’t had a mass shooting, thankfully. But I stumbled across a profound memories from my youth. Kids from my HS in my small city are all too acquainted with gun violence.

  • The first person I knew who died of gun violence was a kid named Deandre. I met him once in passing in 8th grade. He was a year older than me and died from a gun shot and was found in an abandoned house.
  • My younger brother’s classmate, Michelle, was with her Boyfriend in a car, close to the home of a friend of mine, when they were both shot in the back of the head. She survived and lost an eye. He didn’t. She was in 9th grade.
  • Shortly after HS Graduation a kid who lived on my street, Jaime was out with a few other folks when he was shot in the leg. He didn’t make it to the hospital. He was 18.
  • A young man who was a Senior when I was a Freshman “MuMu” lived on my street. Shot to death in a home invasion robbery a few years ago.
  • On my 16th birthday, my classmate’s Mom shot their Dad and killed herself around the corner from me. I could see their house from my front yard.
  • Kid I played football with, Travis, was shot in the leg afterschool in front of the HS when neighborhood “gangs” had “beef”. He survived.
  • A kid named “Dubee” pulled a gun on another kid before baseball practice. We were 9th graders. I thought I was gonna witness a murder. Dooby never fired the gun. We had practice after that like it was normal. It is NOT normal.

The memories of people shot, who shot others and whose lives were impact by gun violence flooded back to me. I talked to old friends and they reminded me of numerous other cases I had buried in my consciousness. My town never had a mass shooting, but like far too many towns, guns violence was, and is, far too common.

The March for Our Lives wasn’t just about one tragedy in a place we don’t live, it was a call to action to end gun violence in our High Schools, Churches, Movie Theatres and our Communities. Tragedies that occur with great loss of life and tragedies that scar and maim and traumatize one person at a time must end.

As an adult looking back to my foolish younger self’s views on gun violence, I am extremely proud that my daughter, Trinity, is far more wise. She is in the same grade as Michelle and DeAndre when they were shot. Saturday in DC, in a the teeming crowd with Tia, Wide Angle Youth Media and thousands of others, she was marching for her life…and theirs.

William’s Daughter, Trinity

 

WIDE ANGLE YOUTH: Madison’s Story

On March 24, thousands of people, young and old, gathered in cities across the country to speak up about gun violence. I attended the Washington, D.C. march and it certainly lived up to the hype. This was my first time going to a march and I didn’t know what to expect. The schools in the city had been protesting in the weeks leading up to the national rally, but the ones at my school all seemed to be for show. I wanted in on the movement as someone personally affected by gun violence, but I didn’t want to do anything that would be superficial.

The day started as the busses, provided by Baltimore City, left the lot of Mondawmin Mall. Once in DC, my group began to follow the crowds to where the march seemed to start. There the crowd was still sparse and people were selling momentums. Music blasted as we made our way to the center of the masses, photographing the scenes, admiring the creative signs, and passing out our own. When we couldn’t move any further because of the immense density of the crowd, we waited. Round after round of cheers  went up as we chanted,“Vote them out” and “Protect our kids, not guns.”

Eventually, the program started and the voices of young people from all across the country blared from the speakers. It was amazing how even with so many people you could still hear the silence as children bravely shared their stories, but the entire time my mind was racing. As I listened to children tackle the different aspects of gun violence, I thought back to people in my own community, people who feel like inner city neighborhoods have been neglected because gun violence isn’t a new phenomenon for them. The people in my community have been losing loved ones to bullets for decades, but people waited to care until it was suburban white kids getting shot. When little children of color were watching their parents and brothers gunned down by bullets, the media didn’t acknowledge them. To my pleasant surprise, there were quite a few children from inner city neighborhoods who related and were brave enough to call these people out on a national platform, even if they weren’t received as warmly by the predominantly white crowds.

After standing all day and listening to speeches and performances around the topic of gun violence, I left feeling an incredible sense of responsibility. All those people got up there and represented their communities, but I was one in a crowd. It was then that I asked myself what I was going to do that separated me from the people that attended only for the story, or to have something to post. What was I going to do to bring my experience back to my community and make a difference? That really is what we should reflect on when we participate in advocacy. I’m going to go back to my community with the intention of making their voices feel heard in every way I can. No matter how you decide to impact your community, you should because if you don’t, who will?

Image taken by Wide Angle youth producer Brandon.

 

Posted March 29th, 2018 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider, Uncategorized by waym
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Baltimore CityLab 2017: Youth Perspective

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joelle Faison is a youth producer at Wide Angle Youth Media.
She goes to Bard High School Early College and
aspires to be a Filmmaker in the future.  
 
 

I was fortunate enough to attend the CityLab on August 2, 2017 at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theater.,  As I listened to a lot of panel discussions, I also took pictures. The event explored key issues and opportunities that impact cities like Baltimore. The event was organized by The Aspen Institute, Atlantic Live, and Bloomberg Philanthropies and I felt this event was successful and insightful.

Walking into the Parkway theater where the event was held, I sort of felt out of place because everyone there looked like important people. They were wearing suits and were grouped up talking about smart complex topics while laughing and eating homemade potato chips. While there I am, holding a camera bag and wearing an outfit I borrowed from my mom. Besides all that it was still a pretty tight set up and it felt like a privilege to be around so many important people like the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Open Society Institute-Baltimore who were the Underwriters for the evening . I liked each panel a lot and each were important topics to talk about, like the vacant housing problem also known as Blight, and how one city came together to create an art installation called #BrightLights to raise awareness on the issue.

But the panel that stuck out to me was Battling Opioids: Lessons from the Front Lines with Nicole Alexander-Scott, Michael Botticelli, Josh Scharstein, and Leana Wen . What I really enjoyed about this panel was when they said that we need to start looking at substance abuse as a disease, not a crime. Instead of being in jail for it, how about we focus on getting help for people with drug addictions. I can relate because I have a family member who is recovering from substance abuse. Luckily they checked into rehab, underwent a treatment program, and did not have to go to jail. I don’t know how my life would be if they got jail time for using drugs. They are so important to my life, and if they were in jail I would probably be a different person.

Another thing they talked about was the stigma around labels and words used towards people who abuse drugs. Words like “drug addict” or “junkie and being “dirty” because you are using  drugs. These words of course have a negative impact on the person. It can lead to discrimination against people that do drugs, and treats them like  untouchables instead of people who need treatment and support. I asked some of the attendees of the event and asked them what they would prefer to call someone that used drugs that was a bit more positive. “Human being” was the answer they gave me also saying that there doesn’t need to be labels put on people.

Scot Spencer, Associate Director of Advocacy and Influence at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said something that stuck with me after the event:

“We tend to use words that demonize rather than humanize, and demonizing is just as effective in certain ways public policy strategy for punitive actions and humanizing can be for supportive actions supportive policies…”

The way I understood it was that we use words to demonize drug users, so it’s easier to put these people in jail because no one is really going to think twice about it. But if we as a society used more terms to make these people look human then we would have less people in jail and more people getting treatment.

 

 

Posted August 8th, 2017 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider by waym
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#ThisIsBaltimore

On April 28, 2015 – a day after Baltimore made headlines around the world for its collective response to the death of Freddie Gray – Wide Angle Youth Media students and staff were compelled to use their documentary skills to project positive images of Baltimore youth. Over the past year, Wide Angle Youth Media collected photographs at spring protests and through workshops at schools, libraries and organizations in more than 15 neighborhoods. The result is this compilation of youth produced photographs that show a city filled with hope, vitality and resilience.  This online publication is free for anyone to view, and over 200 hardcover copies of this book have been delivered to participating workshop sites, students, donors, community members, and a selection of local universities and libraries.


In addition to the book release, students in Wide Angle Youth Media’s advanced high school production program, the Mentoring Video Project, have created 9 audio stories reflecting on a memory from the past year.

Last spring, media producers across the world – many of whom had never before set foot in the city – flocked to Baltimore to cover its unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. In the wake of this activity, I felt urgent pride in the work happening at Wide Angle Youth Media (Wide Angle). While many media organizations were portraying the city in a negative light, Wide Angle was empowering students to continue sharing their stories with greater context.

In the months that followed, I challenged my students to think about what role they played in taking ownership of their narratives. Each student’s perspective and outlook on their surrounding environment is a reflection of their individual experiences in Baltimore. Students discussed in what ways the media failed to share highlights across the city beyond Freddie Gray and protests. And while we continued to reflect on the significance of the events of April 2015, we also began sharing personal momentums and achievements that added to Baltimore’s history in 2015. From winning a sports tournament to identity conflicts during the protests to attending anime conventions — these small moments represent a larger image of how its youth are participating in and contributing to the city’s lifeline.

Based on these discussions, Wide Angle producers from the Mentoring Video Project produced a collection of events that impacted them throughout the year. They reflect on the larger community values and records, that cannot be replaced with big media. – Mawish Raza, MVP Lead Instructor

TUNE IN TO THE MENTORING VIDEO PROJECT MEMORY BANK HERE

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Support for This Is Baltimore has been made possible by: Baltimore Community Foundation’s Rebuilding Baltimore Fund, Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Maryland Humanities Council’s Humanities Fund for Baltimore, Maryland Public Television, Maryland State Arts Council, MurthyNAYAK Foundation, and Open Society Institute-Baltimore. Over 150 students, staff, community members, and volunteers also helped bring this project to life.

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Interested in purchasing a hardcover book of your own? E-mail info@wideanglemedia.org.

Posted March 15th, 2016 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider, Uncategorized by waym
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The Twilight Phone

There is a future that is destined for society. It is a future that revolves around a single inanimate object that does a lot, but does very little. It keeps users in touch with everybody, but no one. It keeps eyes down and causes poor posture. It is the middle ground between reality and cyberspace. This is our future. It is an area which we call the Twilight Phone.

This video was created by participants in Wide Angle Youth Media’s Baltimore Speaks Out! Program at the Patterson Park Public Charter School.

Youth Producers:
Joelle Barnes, Bethel Crouse, Markell Foster, Brianna Hoyt-Cooper, Lill Hoyt-Copper, Amaris Johnson, Antonio Johnson, Tayvon Lane, Ryan Lee, Jaimira Parran, Joy Sanders, Ty’Quan Smith, Avery Stewart, Dassan Thomas, Darrin Yancey, Kelly Zamudio-Rosales

Posted June 2nd, 2015 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider, Video by waym
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Capital Campaign

Wide Angle Youth Media is proud to announce we are expanding and renovating our current office space in Miller’s Court! In the coming months we will share with you before and after images. We would like to thank the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for awarding Wide Angle Youth Media with a generous Neighborhood Business Grant.

Additional Capital Campaign Support has been provided by:

      An Anonymous Donor
      Clayton Baker Trust
      The Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation
      Constellation Energy
      The France-Merrick Foundation
      Seawall Development

If you are interested in learning more about supporting Wide Angle’s Capital Campaign, four room naming opportunities remain. Please email Wide Angle’s Executive Director, Susan Malone at susan@wideanglemedia.org for more information. We are tentatively planning an official unveiling of the new space in the late spring. In the meantime, thank you for your patience while we are currently under construction!

Posted January 7th, 2015 in Blog, Homepage, News, Slider, Uncategorized by waym
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Free Running in Baltimore

Tyson Sanford-Griffin is a young man that loves free running and parkour, activities that involve finding acrobatic ways of moving through urban spaces. However, in this short film, Tyson explains how he often feels unsafe doing his favorite activity in his native city of Baltimore, MD.

Created in the fall of 2013 in Wide Angle Youth Media’s Mentoring Video Project, this film also won “Best Story Promoting a Cause Related to Youth or Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math” in TechSoup’s 2014 Storymakers contest!

Posted October 27th, 2014 in Baltimore, Blog, Homepage, News, Slider, Video by waym
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Join Us On The Set!

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Wide Angle Youth Media invites you to join us for On The Set, a fundraiser and art auction offering a behind-the-scenes experience and conversations with industry experts from award-winning TV, film and radio productions.

Come rub elbows with some of the industry’s top producers, directors and other behind-the-scenes professionals who make TV, film and radio productions possible. And support the future of this fascinating industry – Wide Angle Youth Media youth Producers!

Our host Aaron Henkin, co-creator and producer of “The Signal” on WYPR, and featured speaker Mario Armstrong, national TV/radio host and digital technology expert, will join other industry VIPs, including:

  • Jessica Baroody, Props
  • Richard Chisolm, Cinematographer
  • Ramona Diaz, Filmmaker
  • Jessica Desvarieux, Host and Producer
  • Ann Hornaday, Film Critic
  • Sheena Jones, Associate Producer
  • Nina Noble, Executive Producer
  • Nick Noble, SFX Makeup
  • Jason Noble, Grip Assistant
  • Matt Porterfield, Director
  • Stewart Stack, Serious Grip & Electric
  • Marc Steiner, Radio Host
  • Errol Webber, Filmmaker
  • Debi Young, Makeup Artist
  • Bill Zorzi, Screenwriter

On the Set will be held on Thursday, April 24, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Real News Network, 235 Holliday St., Baltimore, Md., 21202. Tickets are $60 and include food and drinks.

Get your tickets today!

Posted April 18th, 2014 in Blog, Homepage, News, Slider by waym