Documentaries have been my thing this year. I’ve fallen in love with the endless options on Netflix these days. Honestly, it’s a way for me to get informed on various issues. I recently finished watching American Promise. I heard about it earlier this year while perusing through NPR interviews, but finally got around to watching it. It’s a documentary that goes through the educational career of two young African American boys, Idris and Seun. The filmmakers, also Idris’ parents, had the boys followed for 13 years from ages 5-17. The film documents their experience at a prestigious private school and how they navigate through life and various challenges. The goal of the filmmakers was to shed light on issues that African American boys face when it comes to education. The film affected me on such an unexpected emotional level. My heart went out to those boys as they navigated through life’s ups and downs, but I also saw a lot of familiarity in the film, as well.
While watching the film my nephews weighed heavy on my mind. The boy’s journey reminded me of one of my nephews in particular. Going to a predominantly white school, a diagnoses, a need for tutoring, and overall issues that are particular to African American boys. At one point, Idris, can be heard questioning if he and Seun were white would things be different socially for them. In particular their relationship with their female classmates. Idris feeling the need to change the way he talked while playing basketball with a predominantly black basketball team in order to fit in. The disconnect between African American boys and the educations system along with other opportunities of rejection were addressed throughout the film. I love my nephews so much. I just want them to know that they are enough. Despite any label that’s put on them, rejection or any failings of the educational system. I want them to know that who they are is enough.
Something about the film made me reflect on feelings that have recently surfaced. Over the holidays while visiting with a high school classmate I was reminded of a source of shame I’ve carried with me for years. I’ve often been in circles where I allowed my background and where I came from be sources of shame and inferiority. While attending high school and even after I compared myself to people who had two educated parents involved in their lives, more than enough money to afford them opportunities, options, exposure and access to things I didn’t. Fast forward five years later and I’m an adult living abroad among a different set of people but having the same issue with comparing my background to the background of others. But as I mature and shift my perspective I’m beginning to realize something.
Child, I’m enough! That my background, my upbringing, and everything I’ve gone through is a part of my story. Those things should have never been a source of shame but a source of gratefulness. I navigated through life and grew to be the woman that I am today. A person who didn’t come from an educated background but went on to be the first to complete university in her family. A person who has interacted with and developed relationships with amazing people. A person who can already say she’s lived a child hood dream of hers and has no huge regrets. Where I came from and what I’ve been through was enough to shape me into person that I am today. Who I am is enough.
Now I don’t know how I got all this from American Promise but I do know one thing. I hope that those boys know that they are enough. I hope that my nephews will get the message early on that they are enough. I hope that you know that who you are enough. That where you’ve came from and what you’ve been through is a part of your great story. It all plays a part in making you the exceptional human being that you are.
With all that said grab someone’s Netflix password and go watch you some documentaries. Watch American Promise and let me know your thoughts.