Students Counter Negative Images Of African-Americans
By Sean Powers
Champaign High School students recently released a video countering negative images of young African-American males in the media.
African American students are seen wearing khaki pants, ties, and dress up shirts, while messages like “We are not gangsters and thugs” and “We are scholars” pop up on the screen. Central High School Social Worker Tiffany Gholson helped organize the project, and she said she would like to see others across the state produce similar videos.
“You could have a sagging pants and a hood on and your hat turned backwards, and you could still be getting good grades and not getting in trouble at all, but it’s just that image,” Gholson explained. “So, a lot of people have seen the video saying it’s so nice to see our boys out there and that they are doing such a good things right now and we want to see more of that.”
One of the students featured in the video was Norrlyn-Michael Allen, 18, a senior at Central High School.
“There was an incident last year when my teacher didn’t believe I did any of the work,” Allen recalled. “She never felt like I read or anything, and I would tell her I did. She already had an assumption that I didn’t do all of my work until one day she actually saw me reading just on a Friday evening. She said, ‘Oh, now I believe you.’ It’s just simple things like that we just have to fight against on a daily basis.”
Allen graduates from Central High this year, and will attend the University of Michigan.
Since its release two weeks ago, the video has been viewed about 6,500 times on YouTube.