Groundbreaking Documentary Features Words of Wisdom about Black Manhood
Men II Boys
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Producer & Director: Janks Morton
Format: Color, Surround Sound, Special Limited Edition
Number of discs: 1
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Actors: Butch Jamieson, Ryan Adams, Jeff Johnson, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, Elijah Cummings
Studio: iYAGO Entertainment Group
Run Time: 44 minutes
Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
A sobering statistic quoted at the outset sets the tone for this groundbreaking documentary: ’69.7% of black kids are born out of wedlock.’ Since most of these children are being raised by single-moms or grandmothers, this means that most African-American boys grow up nowadays without a positive male role model around. Is it any wonder, then, that so many might mimic the materialistic, misogynistic and self-destructive behaviors they see glorified on TV in rap videos or gravitate to the dead end path where gangs serve as surrogate parents?
101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know
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by LaMarr Darnell Shields
Publisher: Hotep Press; 1ST edition (2009)
Boys and young men of color need and want advice on all kinds of issues, for all kinds of problems, questions, and concerns. Often, they dont know who or how to ask. 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know provides the page turning resource needed to inspire every boy of color to do their best. This book is a collection of motivational messages from men who are concerned about the well-being of young males of color. The foreword was written by Congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr, and the introduction was written by David Banks, founder of the Eagle Heights Academy for Young Men. 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know was the motivation behind the critically acclaimed documentary Men II Boys, by filmmaker Janks Morton.
For this reason, director Janks Morton, Jr. ostensibly decided to make Men II Boys, a worthy sequel to his award-winning What Black Men Think. This equally thought-provoking documentary opens by posing the question ’Can a woman teach a boy to become a man?’ before getting some answers from African-American luminaries like Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), University of Maryland President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, BET talk show host Jeff Johnson, former NFL star Daniel Wilcox and radio personality Butch Jamieson.
Besides these well-known figures, Mr. Morton also enlists the assistance of sage elders from all walks of life in his endeavor to amass a body of practical advice which every black boy ought to internalize. His approach, essentially, was to ask his subjects what they would tell a youngster coming of age, if they only had a minute to speak. And then he preserved their concise responses on camera for posterity.
The upshot of that effort is this priceless collection of insightful pearls of wisdom touching on everything from education to dating to religion to basic hygiene. For instance, Ryan Adams, who was paralyzed at 22 in a drive-by shooting, says ’don't surround your self with the wrong people.’
A representative sample of other ideas include: ’Know how to respect our women,’ ’Show me your friends and I'll show you your future,’ ’Know that change begins with you,’ and ’don't make any babies that you're not going to support.’ President Hrabowski defines ’character’ as ’what you will do when nobody can see you,’ while Wilcox warns to ’think for yourself’ and ’not believe everything that media tells you that you are.’
Much of what you hear in this film probably sounds obvious to anyone raised in an intact nuclear family. But it is easy to discern that common sense is lacking during a telling scene when Janks heads to a high school to find out how much time black boys get to spend with their dads.
There, one macho teen proudly proclaims that all the gangstas he hangs with were raised by single-mothers because ’fathers make niggers soft and prissy.’ What more proof do you need that time is of the essence, if the next generation is to be saved?
An urgent clarion call for absentee black fathers to become intimately involved in their sons’ lives.
Also by directored Janks Morton, Jr.
What Black Men Think
We Need to Talk - Sisters Make Most of Opportunity to Reflect on Relationships