Research News

‘I See Me’ film seminar to engage black teen boys

Vanderbilt Scholar Identity Institute director among facilitators

Gilman Whiting, associate professor of African American and Diaspora Studies (Vanderbilt University)
Gilman Whiting, associate professor of African American and Diaspora Studies (Vanderbilt University)

Gilman Whiting, a Vanderbilt University professor whose areas of research include psycho-social educational resilience, race, poverty, at-risk learners and fatherhood initiatives, will co-lead a film seminar for African American boys in grades seven through nine June 19-23.

“I See Me: A Film Seminar for Black Teen Boys” will take place at the Belcourt Theatre from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.

The seminar will explore high-quality films about the black male experience. Participants will learn to think critically about social, cultural and educational issues raised in the films while learning visual literacy and cinematic concepts.

Whiting, an associate professor of African American and Diaspora Studies, serves as director of the Scholar Identity Institute/Achievement Gap Consortium and the the Urban Education and Black Male Achievement Think Tank, which were created to prepare students, teachers, administrators, families and communities to develop successful scholars. He noted that sometimes boys of color do not feel socially accepted by their peers when they excel at academics.

“Video games, television and movies have a huge influence, and not always for the best, on our young people,” Whiting said. “We want to make the conversation meaningful for this particular age group, opening the boys’ minds to the importance of self-efficacy—believing in one’s ability to succeed—and being resilient through the tough times of being an adolescent.”

Moonlight, Tsotsi and The Great Debaters are among the films to be screened. “We will discuss how our worldview can change when we see ourselves represented on the big screen,” Whiting said. “How does watching a film help us learn more about who we are and inform us in life and academic settings?”

Families are advised that some of the films contain adult situations, profanity, drug/alcohol use, brief nudity, sexual situations and violence.

Whiting hopes to expand the film series for young males of color to a year-round project in the near future.

“I See Me,” a co-presentation of the Belcourt Theatre’s Education and Engagement Program and Vanderbilt’s Urban Education and Scholar Identity Institute, is free, but space is limited. Students must apply to be selected for participation.