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Filmmaker sparks discussion in African American community

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by DONNA L. COLE, The Capital

Robert Eades of Annapolis told a tale of an Annapolis gone by that is barely recognizable by his 11-year-old son Derrick.
For 15 minutes, Mr. Eades spoke to a group of more than 40 people yesterday gathered at Asbury United Methodist Church about his past drug addiction, imprisonment, overcoming obstacles, raising two sons and his hopes for the future.”We didn’t understand there was a silent weapon,” he said, referring to drugs and what they’ve done to his community. “Look at my Fourth Ward over here. There were restaurants, bars, hotels, stores, there was a beach down here … busloads came from New York, Philadelphia to see black entertainment. We lost our hotels, our homes our businesses. Look at what we had compared to what we have now and tell me how far have we come.”

Most of the people in the crowd attended to be a part of Prince George’s County filmmaker Kobie Kiambu Parker’s event and seemed to respond to Mr. Eades, shaking their heads in agreement and listening intently to his every word.

Why are black men killing each other? That was the topic of the day and provided the backdrop for the final segment of Mr. Parker’s “Ink Spot on Canvas,” his first feature film set to premier in September.

“This film is about racism and the psychological effects on the African American community, particularly black men,” Mr. Parker said.

As the meeting began, Mr. Parker took his place behind the lens filming those who came to listen to others and share their own thoughts on what’s happening in African American communities across the United States, including Annapolis.

“What is happening in Annapolis is not unlike what is happening in Baltimore, Washington, New York, Chicago,” said Carl Snowden, director for civil rights for the Maryland attorney general. “It’s a phenomenon that’s happening around the country.”

Mr. Snowden referred to “disparities in economics, education and equality” as contributing factors in ongoing problems within African American communities.

“We know how to solve the problem, we just don’t know how to implement,” Mr. Snowden said. “People are proposing curfews and closing schools, the real solution is jobs for teenagers during the summer.”

Others shared had their own thoughts.

Brandon Blackstone, 20, of Annapolis listened with two of his friends, both about his same age. And though statistically they were at the heart of the discussion, they were clearly in the minority at the meeting. Most were older residents – concerned parents, grandparents and congregants of the church.

“Take the guns and drugs away,” Mr. Blackstone said.

As for black-on-black murders, Mr. Blackstone just shook his head.

“I don’t know why they’re killing each other, for real,” he said. “It’s been going on for a long time.”

And unfortunately, Mr. Eades’ son told his own tale of a view that is all too common today. It’s a story similar to that told by Mr. Parker, who said he saw more than 20 years ago on the same streets.

“I’ve seen people using drugs, I’ve seen people getting chased by knives and stuff like that,” Derrick said. “It’s not right.”

And even at such a young age, Derrick said he can still do his part to help cure the problem.

“Don’t do drugs and inspire kids younger than me,” he said.

As for inspiring others, that thought wasn’t lost on the members of the clergy in attendance.

“We have to go outside the church,” said the Rev. Gregory Johnson, pastor of the Love United Christian Church in Baltimore.

That’s also more or less what inspires Mr. Parker with his filmmaking – making change one movie at a time.

“I’ve always been geared towards consciousness, ideals – anything that’s positive, I’m all for it,” he said.

Mr. Parker said he’s optimistic about a deal on this movie.

“We have some networks that are interested in it,” he said. “I’m quite sure they’ll like what they see.

“This is the last shoot, the last segment. I just thought it would be appropriate in the place that I call home.”

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2 Responses

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