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Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects

Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities

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Edited By Heather M. Pleasants and Dana E. Salter

Within community-based digital literacies work, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Where are the stories and reflections of the researchers, scholars, and community workers themselves? We have learned much about contexts, discourses, and the multimodal nature of meaning making in literacy and digital media experiences. However, we have learned very little about those who initiate, facilitate, and direct these community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects. In Community-Based Multiliteracies & Digital Media Projects: Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities, contributors discuss exemplary work in the field of community-based digital literacies, while providing an insightful and critical perspective on how we begin to write ourselves into the stories of our work. In doing so, the book makes a powerful contribution to digital literacies praxis and pedagogy – within and outside of community-based contexts.
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Chapter 10: Visions Beyond the Bricks: Reflections on Engaging Communities to Support Black Male Youth

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← 202 | 203 → Chapter 10

Visions Beyond the Bricks: Reflections on Engaging Communities to Support Black Male Youth

Ouida Washington and Derek Koen

“Do you think you’re a smart kid? Yes, I’m a smart kid...”

We sat in the mid-town New York office of a potential funder, anxious to show the fine cut of the film we’d been working on for almost a year. We didn ’t have much experience with philanthropy, where social-issue work like the film we’d produced found a lifeline, nor did they as funders know what to expect from a film project. Much of our work thus far had focused on helping non-profits use media to tell their own stories, so now for us to come with a project we had developed on our own was new, bold, and nerve racking for us.

As we dimmed the lights in the conference room, we began sharing the film and the voice of a young Black male begin to echo in the room: “Do you think you’re a smart kid?” the interviewer asked. “Yes, I’m a smart kid...I am a smart kid!” Fifteen-year-old Shaquiel answered as he walked down the hallway of his new school. As the 30-minute film played from the laptop on the table, we looked up to see the program manager becoming very emotional. I think that was the moment they knew and we knew that this film would connect directly with communities who needed to...

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