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Film’s Creative Expression Contest Aims to Provide Alternatives to Violence for Youths

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Black Women For Positive Change

To support its 2018 Week of Non-Violence, Justice & Opportunity, a national outreach organization based in Washington D.C. is sponsoring a contest for youths age 12-18-years old to provide an outlet for them to showcase positive creativity.

Black Women for Positive Change is a civic action network for justice, which is located in the nation’s capital. However, this multi-regional organization also has bases in various other U.S. states, such as California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, New York, Texas, and Virginia. One of the primary aims in this multi-faceted network (which is predominantly led by black women) is to exist as a positive adversary to the pervasive culture of violence in America.

This nation’s negative culture of violence adversely affects black youths and the communities they live in excessively. Not only that, antagonistic, stereotypical images of young black men and women are subliminally enforced via different forms of media, such as music, films, and television programming. The influences these images have on black American youths have subtle, yet far-reaching affects on their behaviors, which can make them ripe for their own place inside the U.S. prison-industrial complex.

Dr. Stephanie Myers, the founder the Black Women for Positive Change network and co-chair of its national steering committee spoke with about a film her organization produced and released titled Drop: A Story of Triumph. This film tells the story of the positive forces that intervene in a young man’s life, which help save him from the prison system that awaits youths like him who drop out of high school. The film’s opening credits also contain sobering statistics about the high school dropout rate in America.

However, it is common knowledge to be aware of the fact that the majority of black American males who drop out of high school go on to become products of America’s largest-in-the-world mass incarceration phenomenon. Dr. Myers’ organization combats these grim realities by holding an annual Week of Non-Violence, Justice & Opportunity to provide positive fulfillment for youths who face adverse challenges. “After the Trayvon Martin tragedy, we at Black Women for Positive Change started to intensify our efforts to fight against violence,” Dr. Myers told

“We reached out to a number of like-minded organizations and people all around the country and to date, we have 40 cities in states across America that participate in activities during our yearly Week of Non-Violence programs,” she continued. However, key collaborators on these programs also hail from other nations across the world, including the U.K., The Republic of Congo, and South Africa. Black Women for Positive Change is truly a global force for good.

However, for this year’s Week of Non-Violence, Justice, & Opportunity, Black Women for Positive Change is sponsoring a new component of its annual initiative for the first time.

In association with Empowering Our Children Filmworks, Dr. Myers’ group produced and released the film Drop: A Story of Triumph (directed by Chaka Balamani) with the intention of engaging youths to watch the film and participate in a creative expression contest in which they can use different artistic and literary means to describe the film’s message of violence prevention, anger management, and conflict de-escalation.

“With the film Drop, we wanted to project our beliefs in responsible media that is both positive in nature but real in the sense that we show the actual consequences of the negative lifestyles that our youths are encouraged to lead in other forms of media,” Dr. Myers added.

Another key member of Black Women for Positive change who was exclusively interviewed by was Marcus Hughes, Millennial Co-Chair of the Week of Non-Violence, Justice, & Opportunity. Hughes, 33, is also President of the Next Generation Action Network’s DMV area division. He is a 14-year veteran of social activism efforts in his community. Hughes is working on promoting Drop and will soon be doing so in concert with actor Trey Chaney (The Wire, Saints and Sinners), one of the film’s co-stars.

“Violence is not normal. But members in our community will normalize it by knowing when of their loved ones is ‘touched’ without doing what they know they have to do to get them the help they need,'” Hughes said in his exclusive interview.

Not only will youths be able to address those needs through writing essays in this first annual creative expression contest, they will be able to use other forms of art to showcase their talent.

“We’re encouraging kids to send two-minute rap videos, poetry works, and whatever other positive means possible to participate in a contest that we’re using to be on the forefront in the fight against violence everywhere,” Hughes continued.

This year’s Week of Non-Violence, Justice & Opportunity is going on from October 13-21. Winners will receive generous cash prizes. Organizations such as the National Black Nurses Association, Moms Demand Action, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Next Generation Action Network and Southern Christian Leadership Conference have also partnered with Black Women for Positive Change to facility this week-long anti-violence initiative.

Other Influential advocates of justice, such as Congresswoman Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Charles Steele, President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Michelle Bernard, Esq., MSNBC News Anchor, and President/CEO, the Bernard Center for Women, Antonio Knox,Immediate Past Grand Basileus, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Tamika Mallory, National Co-Chair of the Women’s March will also be a part of this great annual seven-day series of positive programs for black youths.

To obtain more info or help this organization’s valiant efforts, visit here.

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