Black Femmes Save Lives: Introducing the New Scenarios REAL DEAL CurriculumBy Bianca Laureano, September 8, 2015
I am alive because of Black femmes, and I know Black femmes who are alive because of me. It’s the late night/early morning phone calls asking for help to calm us when this world is too much; it’s the way we use technology to stay and be connected after a Black femme kills herself; it’s us discussing our own suicidal ideation; creating rituals, and new ways to be alive right now. Black femmes practice love and solidarity like no other femmes I know! Our three new youth-written films center young Black femmes, and the new REAL DEAL curriculum that came out of those films does the same.
Following the tradition of Scenarios REAL DEAL curricula, What’s the REAL DEAL about Love and Solidarity? is a collaborative project that includes the voices of seasoned and new REAL DEAL educators, our three winning youth writers, and community members from participating cities New York, Chicago and Cleveland. Collaborative writing is not new — but what is new is to allow youth and their stories to guide us in that process. Scenarios centers and trusts under-resourced young people to share what they know and live. What’s the REAL DEAL about Love and Solidarity? is not youth-informed, it is youth-led.
I pushed back for the Black femmes I know who need(ed) this curriculum (myself included), for the Black femmes who wrote the films, the Black femmes in the films, and the Black femmes who are educators and students.
There was push-back around many of the parts of the curriculum by early readers — mostly white women, who thought topics of historical trauma, and the different forms of power (power with vs. power over; structural, systemic, and institutional power) seemed too difficult to teach. There were also critiques about where specifically the idea of solidarity should be included in the curriculum. I pushed back for the Black femmes I know who need(ed) this curriculum (myself included), for the Black femmes who wrote the films, the Black femmes in the films, and the Black femmes who are educators and students.
The historical trauma, forms of power, and the reminder that solidarity looks and feels like many different things, is something deeply personal for me. These topics have scared me because they could kill me and they do kill us. I chose to lean on the fear and not avoid it, and to move through and with it. The result is our new curriculum.
Solidarity is not something that is a one-size fits all approach. This may be why it was difficult for early readers of the curriculum to identify where it exists, but solidarity is weaved all throughout the curriculum.
Lesson 1: Stories, how does challenging a single-story and narrative result in solidarity?
Lesson 2: Stereotypes, how does challenging ideas of negative and positive stereotypes lead to solidarity?
Lesson 3: Building Community, who has solidarity with us in our community and how do we see and understand it?
Lesson 4: Silence, re-visioning how we see, understand, and use silence in solidarity
Lesson 5: Love, how is love a form of solidarity and what is it, how does it feel, how do we define it for ourselves and our communities?
Lesson 6: Love & Relationships, are the actions and behaviors our partners and loved ones engage in demonstrate solidarity and love?
Lesson 7: Asking for Help & Healing, now that we understand historical trauma, how may students practice solidarity through ritual in the classroom
Lesson 8: Sexual Orientation, ways to challenge the heterosexism and homophobia in our lives and stand in solidarity with those different from us
Lesson 9: Consent, how do we embrace consent and rejection and center love and solidarity during that process?
Lesson 10: Gender Identity, what may we do to center and be more inclusive of transgender and genderqueer people?
Lesson 11: Power, what forms of power do we have and how may we strategically use our power and privilege for love and justice?
Lesson 12: Race, Class & Gender, is our solidarity intersectional and inclusive, if not how to make it so?
Lesson 13: Our Stories, how to write and share our stories of love and solidarity that need to be told?
Scenarios has always looked at gender, and has often focused on masculinity. What do we learn, though, when we look in a new direction, with a new lens and vision? To answer this question we focus and center femininity, especially Black femininity. To center Black femininity is to center freedom and liberation.
This curriculum is a call to action! If you are an educator at a public or charter school in NYC or Cleveland, sign up for a free educator workshop, which also includes a free copy of the curriculum, through October 2015. You may also independently purchase the curriculum at the reduced price of $309 and features all three films, Behind The Scenes, film scripts, and film posters. For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the REAL DEAL about Love and Solidarity? curriculum and films centers us and our needs. Black femmes save lives, and our lives are worth saving.
ScenariosUSA is a nonprofit that uses film and writing to amplify youth voices on social justice issues.
Learn more here.