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Is the specific program in Boys of Baraka a good idea in how it removes these boys...

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joellle | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted March 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM via web

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Is the specific program in Boys of Baraka a good idea in how it removes these boys from the ghetto and takes them to Kenya?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:21 PM (Answer #1)

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I would suggest that the most resonant idea that comes from the film is that children in dire conditions need to be exposed to different options in life.  Whether these children have to be taken to Kenya might be debatable as fewer children can be helped in seeking to embrace something so far removed.  Yet, the fundamental base in the need to change the reality of these children is evident.  The expanding of opportunity and possibility for children to reinvent how they see themselves becomes critical.  If children are expected to be more than what the statistics indicate, they have to see themselves as more than mere objects of sociological reality.  This might not necessitate a move to Africa, as much as a validation of their voice.

In exit interviews with the children after their experience, one can see this.  Devon Brown spoke to this in 2006:

The only thing [Baltimore] needs is a lot of role models, people who really care about the children and take them places — not specifically Africa — but out of their surroundings, and help them and make them feel that they are somebody.

The physical move to Africa is secondary to the idea that programs and human interaction are geared towards showing these children that they are "somebody."  Montrey Moore echoed a similar sentiment about his own experience:

Now I see that I can do stuff. I know I can do it. And I want to do it.... They know in society today that black kids can do things, but everybody's waiting for just one example to prove it and let the whole world know that it can be done. But it was sad to see what it had to take.... They had to send us to Africa.

The fact that "they had to send us to Africa" is a statement suggesting that the expansion of hope and capacity of one's own self does not demand such a physical change.  Initiatives and efforts must be geared to instruct children that they do not need to escape, as much as envision who they are and what they can do in their contexts.

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