A Friend, a Film and an Enlightening Experience

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to assist my dear friend, Denise Blake, with one of her outreach projects, Bring Your “A” Game, a screening and town hall meeting, presented by Twenty-First Century Foundation in partnership with The Morehouse Male Initiative. It was a new experience for me, as it was my first time on Morehouse’s campus. In fact, it was my first time on any HBCU campus.

Bring You’re "A" Game is a twenty-two minute documentary film targeted to urban youth – young men and boys – who are most often victims of poverty and lack strong male role models in their lives. Mario Van Peebles is featured in the film and interviewees include Chris Rock, Spike Lee, Dr. Cornel West, Ice Cube, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Harper Hill, to name a few. Using computer generated imaging and eye-opening statistics, the film encourages urban youth to finish high school and get a college degree.

It was mind-boggling to learn that inner-city third grade test scores are often used to determine how many young men will go to prison. Even more astonishing, I learned that most prisons are privately owned goldmines. It really made me think about America’s education system in a new light, seriously questioning its integrity.

Yes, many men in prisons do deserve to be there, but I wonder how many, if they had been given the opportunities I had, would actually be there today? Since we are on the topic, and the film did not mention it, according to research released on Monday, March 2, by the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC, one out of every 55 Louisiana adults is behind bars, a higher incarceration rate than any other state. Being from New Orleans that really hits home.

Denise and The Atlanta community engagement team did an excellent job promoting Bring Your “A” Game. The response was overwhelming, as people arrived almost an hour early and a second screening had to be scheduled. Once the initial screening session began, it was announced that Mario Van Peebles was in attendance and would conduct a Q&A after the panel discussion.

Bring Your “A” Game will air exclusively on BET later this spring. Even though the target audience is urban youth, I suggest you watch the documentary…you’ll learn a thing or two just as I did.

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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, Georgia's Own Credit Union, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.