Online Workshop: Using Media For Social Justice
In an unprecedented partnership between two educational organizations that believe student led classrooms are crucial in actively engaging students using a social-emotional learning approach, Bank Street College of Education and Scenarios USA have collaborated to present a four week online workshop titled: Using Media for Social Justice. Beginning February 24-March 20, 2015, this workshop will feature Scenarios USA films, curricula, activities, and utilize Bank Street’s world renowned online learning environment for a dynamic course for educators! Successful completion of the course results in 2 CEUs for participants.
Registration instructions are below:
1. go to http://bankstreet.edu/cps/
register/2. click register online at center of page3. find #24 “Using Media for Social Justice”4. click “enroll” the blue button to the right of the workshop with the price5. go to the top of the page and click “checkout”6. select “i will pay the total” from the drop down menu below the grid7. to get a discounted fee of $275, type in the coupon code “susa1” and click “add” (late fee will be waived)8. complete the information requested (i.e. address, name)9. click “continue”10. complete information requested (i.e. address, name, payment)11. click “continue”12. You are registered!
It’s a New Year and We Have a New Look
Last year was a big, ugly year. We felt angry that the deaths of black people went unpunished, that survivors of sexual violence were told they were lying, or worse, didn’t matter. Consenting people were told time and again that who and how they loved was disgusting. It was a year that forced us to realize that, for all the “progress” we’ve made, we maybe haven’t gotten all that far. We went to theaters to see a movie about events that happened fifty years ago and saw something that looked eerily relevant.
As we re-launch our new streamlined website with a focus on narrative voices, art and film for, by and about underrepresented youth in America, we bear in mind the struggle for social justice endured last year, but we also move forward with the next year in front of us. And we shine the focus on young people, because they are the ones who know what’s happening first, who are the changemakers, and who continue to fight the decades-old fight for social justice in new and unprecedented ways: harnessing the power of countless voices to help Nicole Maines win her fight against her school system or building movements like #blacklivesmatter and got people to listen.
But if there’s nothing else that 2014 taught us, it’s that the fight for equal rights is constant, complicated and nuanced with individual stories and struggles. It’s part of every day and every part of our lives. It’s calling out people you love for saying “that’s so gay”. It’s asking why mainstream media continues to ignore the notion of fully-realized characters of color, and why universities aren’t doing more about on-campus sexual assault.
So as we look forward into 2015 and beyond, we want to make the new ScenariosUSA.org a space where we’re going to keep talking. That’s what we do. We amplify youth voices, we fight for social justice, we make movies, and we keep talking. And we’re going to hear from all kinds of people within that dialog—filmmakers, writers, millennials (in all their history-making diversity as a generation)—and, of course, from young people. Welcome, have a look, stick around and stay tuned.
Through a Different Lens: This is How I See Me.
Throughout December, we introduced you to 3 remarkable teenagers. They shared who they are, they told stories about feeling invisible, and they spoke of the need to quiet the noise around them.
At Scenarios, our work creates a space for young people to be supported as they figure out who they are. We do our work in schools, out of schools and online. And when the young people are ready to speak and to lead, we give them the space to do so — loudly and authentically.
In 2015, Scenarios continues to listen and learn from young people with these featured projects:
STORIES – Our new website will be the space for millennials and influencers to be who they are and to share their vision. It will be lived, not told. Experienced, not observed. Site launches in February.
FILM – 3 youth-written, Hollywood-produced films on issues teens define as critical to their world are in production and will premiere on TV, online and on mobile devices together with youth-led advocacy campaigns. Films premiere in May.
EDUCATION – Our standards-based and arts-infused curriculum will be build around the 3 films we’re making now with teens. Our education cycle will roll into schools in Fall, 2015.
Thank you for being our partner in education and promoting youth voice.
Here’s to a productive, transformative, healthy 2015,
Through a Different Lens: Morriah
Morriah Lisowksi, 17, Brooklyn, NY
This is how I see me:
I fight for what I stand for and stand by what I think is right. I’m a girl, and I’m strong, my appearance accounts for a small percentage of who I am.
Through A Different Lens: Fatimata
Fatimata Sylla, 17, Bronx, NY
This is how you see me:
This is how I see me:
I see myself as someone who is strong. After my father was killed we moved to the United States from our home of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Even though I miss him, as the oldest child, I stay strong for my mother and my brothers.
Fatimata participated in the Scenarios curriculum about Place & Power in her high school English class, and is now part of the Scenarios Media Corps, a group of youth working to create a digital campaign for our NYC film that addresses intimate partner violence. At Scenarios, we work side by side with young people to provide them with the analytical skills to connect knowledge with their lived experiences and the world around them. This holiday season, support the perspectives of young people like Fatimata by bringing Scenarios’ films and curricula to classrooms across the country.
Scenarios USA Roundup of the 10 Most Important Reads on Ferguson
Last night a grand jury decided there will be no trial for Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Mike Brown, the unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO. In the 108 days since Brown was killed, too many of the news reports have centered around vilifying Brown and the community of demonstrators who have dared to demand justice for the unnecessary taking of black life by police. News outlets have prioritized looting over coverage of peaceful protests, Brown’s past over his once possible future. By demonizing black bodies and black communities, news coverage continues the dangerous narrative that contributed to Brown’s death, and the taking of black lives across the country.
Despite this, there are those who have managed to report on Brown’s death while honoring his humanity. These are the pieces that have impacted us at Scenarios and we encourage you to read.
By Dexter Thomas, Jr
“Because we know that it’s common knowledge that white killers get treated like little lost lambs, while black victims are immediately demonized. Hell, there are now even listicles about this sort of thing. But we also know that any small flaw, any trace of humanity, will ruin the whole thing. That people, too many people, will be positively giddy at the sight of our blood.”
By Kara Brown
“We knew many would care more about the destruction of property and inanimate objects than the destruction of black people’s sense of safety in this country. Still, it was hard not to be taken aback by the downright comical degree to which CNN lamented over a burned pizza chain instead of the dejection of a black community.”
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Among the many relevant facts for any African-American negotiating their relationship with the police the following stands out: The police departments of America are endowed by the state with dominion over your body. This summer in Ferguson and Staten Island we have seen that dominion employed to the maximum ends—destruction of the body. This is neither new nor extraordinary. It does not matter if the destruction of your body was an overreaction. It does not matter if the destruction of your body resulted from a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction of your body springs from foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and it can be be destroyed. Protect the home of your mother and your body can be destroyed. Visit the home of your young daughter and your body will be destroyed. The destroyers of your body will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.”
By Mia McKenzie
“Talking to people on Twitter about Mike Brown and what’s happening in Ferguson right now, I’ve noticed (again) how easily folks get distracted when Black people are murdered by the police. It seems as though every detail is more interesting, more important, more significant—including looting of a Walmart in Ferguson, which a local Fox news station focused its entire coverage on—than the actual life that was taken by police.”
By Roxane Gay
“In truth, the media rarely seems well equipped to write about tragedy and trauma ethically, particularly when race is involved. It does not know how to report on Ferguson’s grief and anger without resorting to the most facile – and often most damaging – language that only perpetuates the ever-present racial divide in this country.”
By Roland Martin
“The fight for a fair justice system has gone far beyond Ferguson. We see men and women of various backgrounds coming together to demand justice …. They are marching, protesting, organizing, registering voters, running candidates for office, training up the next generation of civil-rights lawyers. They are largely young people who have decided that, in the words of Black Freedom Movement leader Fannie Lou Hamer, they are ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.’”
By Carol Anderson
“A little more than half a century after Brown, the election of Obama gave hope to the country and the world that a new racial climate had emerged in America, or that it would. But such audacious hopes would be short-lived. A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama’s election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger.”
By Ezra Klein
So Brown is punching inside the car. Wilson is scrambling to deflect the blows, to protect his face, to regain control of the situation. And then Brown stops, turns to his left, says to his friend, “Here, hold these,” and hands him the cigarillos stolen from Ferguson Market. Then he turns back to Wilson and, with his left hand now freed from holding the contraband goods, throws a haymaker at Wilson.
By Jenee Desmond-Harris
“But here’s what Facebook comments are good for: revealing data about whether you want your ‘friends’ to be your friends any longer. That is, of course, if you believe, as I do, that the way someone responds to other people’s pain and mistreatment—including the systemic mistreatment of entire groups of people—is a perfectly fine way to decide whether he or she is someone you like or want to continue to interact with.”
By Akiba Solomon
“Later on, the young St. Louisan sitting next to me starts weeping. I know she goes by @Nettaaaaaaaa on Twitter and that she has more than 13,000 followers, but I can’t bring myself to interrupt her tears to get her full name or ask her age. Along with two friends she stands up and tells us how they’ve been protesting since the beginning and that they are exhausted. She also informs us that an out-of-towner (who turns out to be an ex-pimp named Tariq Nasheed) has been tearing her protest work apart on Twitter. She and her friends tell us that they’re thankful that we’re there but feel possessive of their movement. They urge us to keep Ferguson and Michael Brown at the center, a sentiment I hear from local people throughout the trip.”
3 Amazing Films- Coming Soon!
It’s finally happening!
You’ve waited patiently to hear about who won Scenarios’ REAL DEAL contests, who’s directing the films and what’s going on. At long last, the wait is over! We have three amazing young writers and three brilliant directors turning their stories into short films. Please join us in person or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for behind the scenes and on set exclusives, sneak previews of post production and finally, to see the films at their world premiere in 2015!
Meet the writer: Janaya Greene wrote Veracity during her senior year of high school while attending Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in South Side Chicago. During this time the debate of legalizing gay marriage was at its height and many states were pushing for its legality. After many debates among friends, family and classmates, Janaya realized that the issue was not, “Is being gay right or wrong?” but rather “How do humans, gay or straight, deserve to be treated?” With support from her film study teacher, Mr. Eugene Hazzard, and classmates, she proceeded to write Veracity, a story about an African-American girl named Olivia J. Brownstein, who gains the courage to tell her family and friends that she is a lesbian. The response she gets is not what she expected from those she loved most. Veracity explores the taboo of being gay in the African-American community.
Meet the Director: Joshua Butler is a prolific film and television director whose recent work includes FOX’s The Following starring Kevin Bacon, Pretty Little Liars for ABC Family, Crisis for NBC, Reckless for CBS, and Matador for Robert Rodriguez and the El Rey Network. Joshua directed the award-winning feature VLOG for Twisted Pictures and the producers of SAW, Beer Money for USA Network, Deathlands for SyFy Channel, Saint Sinner for writer-producer Clive Barker, and the Christmas movie Prancer Returns for Raffaella De Laurentiis. He has just completed the Random Bench-produced short film Doghouse, starring Michael Maize and Erin Daniels. In addition to working with Scenarios USA this fall, Joshua will be directing Joe Carnahan’s new NBC thriller, State of Affairs, starring Katherine Heigl, and his 10th episode of CW’s The Vampire Diaries.
New York City
Meet the Director: Laurie Collyer premiered her first film at the Sundance Film Festival, a feature documentary entitled, Nuyorican Dream. Nuyorican Dream had its broadcast premiere later that year on HBO/Cinemax. The documentary earned Collyer a DGA nomination and won multiple prizes at international film festivals. Her second film, narrative feature, Sherrybaby, also premiered at Sundance and earned lead actress Maggie Gyllenhaal a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. Collyer participated in the Sundance Filmmakers’ Lab and the Residence du Festival de Cannes to develop Sherrybaby. In 2009, Collyer received a Cinereach grant to develop the script for Sunlight Jr., Collyer’s most recent film which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. Sunlight Jr., features Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon as down and out lovers, wrestling with pregnancy and homelessness. Most recently, Collyer was hired by LD Productions to write a pilot based on the book, Brothel: Mustang Ranch and its Women, with partner Annie Marter.
Help Scenarios Redefine Place and Power in Chicago!
Scenarios USA has expanded our REAL DEAL program to Chicago schools. Beginning this Fall, 39 dedicated educators in 9 public high schools are implementing the Scenarios curriculum addressing Place and Power.
Our excitement doesn’t stop there. Today – Right Now – we’re launching our first ever Indiegogo Campaign to fund the Chicago REAL DEAL film. REAL DEAL films are written by students as the final assignment of our curriculum and are made by some of your favorite Hollywood talents like Doug Liman (Bourne Identity), David Frankel (Devil Wears Prada), and Gina Prince- Bythewood (Love and Basketball).
Here’s what will happen: Nearly 1,000 Chicago students will submit their stories about place and power to our contest. (This theme is especially potent for the young people of Chicago who live in a city plagued by an epidemic of youth violence and immense cultural segregation.) One submission from Chicago will be selected to be turned into a REAL DEAL film. The winning writer will be partnered with an acclaimed Hollywood director, shoot their story in their Chicago neighborhood with a professional crew, and bring their film to a local and national audience of 20 million!
We’ve been told that for teenagers to learn, you must talk to them. But at Scenarios, we do something just as important as talking. We listen. That’s the mandate we began with when we started the organization 15 years ago.
As described by Scenarios REAL DEAL student, Terrance Ortiz, “Without someone showing you what’s possible, you don’t know what you can contribute to the world. When doors open, you can surprise yourself, and others.”
Help us open new doors – doors that are safe for young people to walk through, where, on the other side, they can be heard.
Please visit our Indiegogo page. watch our video, DONATE and HELP to make a film from Chicago. This is more than a film, though – this is a chance to grow the creative spark in the teenagers we work with, many of whom had long stopped considering their own futures as bright or promising.
We’re honored to be invited into Chicago for this school year, and we’re thrilled to have you join us at this exciting start of our journey. Thank you for visiting the Indiegogo page.
P.S. Please share our current Facebook Indiegogo Update on your Wall!
Announcing the 2013-14 REAL DEAL Teacher Workshops, Curriculum and Contest
Love. Money. Family. Friendship. Power. Violence.
Do your students think and talk about these issues? Do your students love watching movies?
Are you looking for interactive, engaging, Common Core-aligned activities that will get even your most reluctant students thinking critically and writing creatively about sexual health and social justice issues?
Are you interested in exploring how the arts can take critical thinking to a whole new level?
Do you aim to create a safe space for your students to build their social and emotional competencies?
COMING IN FALL 2013 TO NYC, CLEVELAND AND CHICAGO
Scenarios USA’s professional development workshops, for all educators grades 6-12, where we tackle these questions and more. These workshops are for educators who teach in our three REAL DEAL regions: New York City, Cleveland and Chicago.
Every teacher who attends our workshops will receive a free REAL DEAL curriculum and the new Scenarios USA movies, which are written by teens for teens.
Workshop participants will also learn about the 2013-14 REAL DEAL contest, where student winners are partnered with Hollywood directors and make short films.
REAL DEAL Curriculum Lessons:
- Common Core-aligned
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies
- Creative, interactive and democratic
Please register here to receive more information about the workshop dates and locations as they are set: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Fall2013preregistration.
New Cycle. New Curriculum.New Contest
Get to know Cleveland winning writer, Mayraleeh Nelson
By Scenarios Alumna and writer of Veracity, Janaya Greene
Mayraleeh Nelson entered a state of disbelief when she found out she was a Scenarios USA Real Deal Winner. She learned that she won Scenarios’ Real Deal Writing Competition this summer, before starting her last year at Facing History New Tech High School in Cleveland. When asked, “What’s the Real Deal about Love and Solidarity?” posed by the Read Deal curriculum, Split Persona was born. Nelson’s film is about twin sisters, Carey and Jalissa, trying to balance their home life, which primarily consists of taking care of their mother who is battling suicidal depression, keeping up with their studies and having social lives.
The script was inspired by Nelson’s desire for people to understand that everyone’s lives are deeper than what they present at face value. She wants people to grasp that “there’s more to everyone’s story.” Nelson knows this first hand, as her mother has depression. “As a family, you take sacrifices in general. Then, as a family with someone in that family who has a mental illness, you take even more sacrifices,” says Nelson. “My dad makes a joke that everybody’s affected by (depression), even the animals in the household!” In Split Persona the Cleveland Real Deal Winner seeks to make it clear that when one family member is hurting, the entire family is affected; a narrative she believes is rarely explored in films.
Carey and Jalissa’s characters are not only reflections of how Nelson feels at times when assisting her mom through her depression, but they’re also reflections of how people react differently to learning that someone they know is depressed. “I’ve come across people that when you tell them ‘I know someone that is depressed,’ they’re like, ‘Oh, are you okay? If you need anything go ahead and call on me,’ and other times someone will be like “Oh really. That’s interesting,’ then you won’t see them.”
As Nelson wraps up her senior year in high school, she’s looking forward to studying Business Management at The Ohio State University. An art-lover herself, Nelson hopes to one day create arts programs for inner-city children that is affordable, unlike many art schools and programs today. Simply put, she hopes Split Personaencourages more candid conversations about mental health, and more specifically depression, to eliminate the stigmas placed on depressed people and encourage understanding and empathy around those that are depressed and their loved ones. “Don’t assume what goes on in someone’s house. Don’t think that everything is perfectly fine because you do not know what goes on behind closed doors,” says Nelson. “I hope people start asking questions about mental illnesses.”
A message from Stephanie Lassiter, Interim Director of Education
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
That’s me.I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
That’s me.Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a womanPhenomenally.
That’s me.Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
#myscenarios – Gloria Daniel, Associate Director
Anna, Ashley, David, Ernestine, Nancy, Yi-Ching and more recently Bianca, Josh, Cecilia, Tara, Emma, these are but a few of the people who stepped through Scenarios doors and have helped build it. These amazing individuals have all played a part in the story that is my life. They are making my life richer, fuller, brighter, bolder, louder, and stronger.
Anna reminded me how to ask for help and how to give help when needed. Ashley consistently awed me at how insanely brilliant, creative, compassionate, and caring an individual she is. Everyday I worked with her I was gifted to see a powerful woman grow and evolve. David taught me the true face of feminism. There is no louder voice on the planet than the man who quietly accepts the leadership of a powerful woman and embraces it in every aspect of his life and lays it all bare for the world to see proudly. Ernestine reignited my need to learn. She reminded me to stop learning is death. To stop seeking answers to stop being interested in how to do something new is just another form of death. Ernestine challenged her students, her peers, and her colleagues to seek answers that others were afraid to ask. Fear was no reason not to seek answers. To Ernestine fear was the reason to push harder, to go further, to discover something new. Nancy showed me just how strong and motivated this generation is. Nancy doesn’t see a barrier she can’t climb. There is no obstacle that can’t be overcome. I don’t believe Nancy understands the word can’t. Nancy is the definition of perseverance. Perseverance I believe will define this next generation. From Yi-Ching I learned to look at the world through an artist’s eye. Yi-Ching was one the few people who fit the definition of a paradox. In a world bombarded by advertising and pop-culture Yi-Ching was amazingly lightly touched by it. Yi-Ching preferring the view of the world through her camera lens. Combine that with an intelligence that can be sometimes mind-blowing in it’s vastness you can glean an insight about the world that can shake foundations. Bianca, is the reason I love me.Through Bianca’s eyes I found the courage to love myself and my body. To begin to reconcile over thirty years of self-hate and internal disgust caused from accepting society’s view of what is beautiful. Bianca set an example that I had never seen before. She gave an unapologetic performance of a proud beautiful woman of color who demanded to be loved as she was. Take it or leave it. There is no greater gift I could have received from the universe than the chance I had to learn from this amazing woman. Through Josh I learned how passion is not just a trait in a person’s soul. It is an action. It is an action that is borne out of love. It is an action that is played out in deed. It is an action in how we choose to work. It is an action in what we choose to do and how we choose to do it. Josh’s decision to surrender to the Scenarios process and then use his expertise to get phenomenal performances from the cast and pulling such emotion from the writer for House not Home. It is a blueprint on how to guide a project, lead a crew, and produce a production. Cecilia challenges me, pushes me, encourages me, and gently guides me into spaces to learn and to grow into my role as Associate Director. Under her tutelage I’m learning what Development means to her, what leadership means to me and I’m learning how to do both those things better. With her friendship I hope to elevate both those relationships with an even higher level of integrity, respect, that I hold myself to and maintain the boundaries that both roles will need. With Tara I’m reminded to look at my organization with fresh eyes and see what more I can do to make the experience better for everyone I work with. Emma reminds me of the future. Emma brings possibility, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and a new energy.
There is a group of individuals that I have not mentioned. Our alumni! These amazing individuals are actually too many to mention by name but please know they all have left their mark on me in their own way. Their work and their voice inspire me to give the very best of myself at all times.
With all this there are still few people missing. My story is nowhere near finished but like every good story it did have an origin. Mine began 5 years ago and 3 remarkable individuals frame that beginning. Rob holds down the film aspect of our programs. Since I’ve been with Scenarios Rob has worked with every winning writer in our program and almost all of our youth. He would recognized as the elder statesman of our group. His knowledge of our programs and staff provides the living oral history needed to give our organization authenticity and truth. Rob is the one willing to play devil’s advocate. The one willing to push you to prove your point, put forth your arguments, he reminds me if you won’t fight for what you want don’t expect any one else to either. Stephanie, has been running Cleveland for the last 7 years. In the meantime she got 2 Master degrees and every summer in Cleveland she organizes a free health event for 500 youth with her sorority – when it comes to education, she is one of the smartest minds I know. The fact that she chooses to stay with Scenarios blows my mind everyday. When she speaks I want to bask in the glow of her words. I want luxuriate in her way of taking complex concepts and laying them out in simplified, tangible, concrete blocks that don’t make me feel stupid. Instead they make me want to get out of my seat and shout why haven’t we done this yet! I have seen and heard Stephanie take the hardest of subjects, race, break it down in such a way that everyone could comment and not feel accused of being racist. You could call that a miracle but that’s a disservice to what it actually is. That is the work of an extremely skilled and educated woman. Dear Steph, I strive to be like you in so many ways. Lastly, there is Maura. The co-founder and executive director of Scenarios USA who has given the last 19 years of her life to this organization. She put her very soul into this organization. I have learned what the definition of commitment looks like from her example. This woman gives more and sometimes even more than she can give to this organization. I know the 1st thought in the morning and the last thought in the evening is Scenarios. I see the amount of dedication, sacrifice, time, and work given to make this organization run. Looking back at this story Maura has had a hand directly or indirectly in picking every person I’ve spoken about. Maura can take credit as one of the architects in my life.
So when asked what the impact that Scenarios has had in my life I can truly say that the impact is active and ongoing. Scenarios is shaping who I am. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five years. All of you have had a hand in the creation of who am and who I am becoming. So the question remains am I a better person for it? How could I not be? Would be my answer.