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Film seminar on campus over Winter Break to engage teenage boys of color

by Dec. 19, 2018, 10:53 AM

L-r: One of the young men who was inspired by Gilman Whiting at a Chicago school district symposium on addressing the achievement gap among black and Latino boys. Whiting gave the symposium's keynote address. (courtesy of Gilman Whiting)
L-r: One of the young men who was inspired by Gilman Whiting at a Chicago school district symposium on addressing the achievement gap among black and Latino boys. Whiting gave the symposium’s keynote address. (courtesy of Gilman Whiting)

Vanderbilt Scholar Identity Institute director among facilitators

Gilman Whiting, an associate professor of African American and Diaspora studies and director of the Scholar Identity Institute, will lead a Winter Break camp and film seminar for boys of color in sixth through ninth grades Jan. 2-4, 2019.

​The Scholar Identity Seminar will take place at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center on Vanderbilt’s campus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.

​High-quality films about the black and brown male experience like Black Panther, Dreamkeepers and The Great Debaters will be screened. Participants will be challenged to think critically about social, cultural and educational issues. Academic self-efficacy, identity development, masculinity and team-building are a just a few of the goals of the programming.

Whiting’s research areas include psycho-social educational resilience, social-emotional needs of gifted and talented students, race, poverty and equity, as well as fatherhood initiatives.

“We will discuss how our worldview can change when we see ourselves represented on the big screen,” Whiting said. “How can watching a film help us learn more about who we are and inform us in life and academic settings?”

​The Scholar Identity Seminar is co-sponsored by Why We Can’t Wait Inc. The program is free, but space is limited. Students must apply to be selected for participation.

Whiting noted that sometimes boys of color do not feel socially accepted by their peers when they excel at academics.

​”Video games, television, movies, and social media 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.”

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

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

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