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Youngster becomes ‘Loud’ voice for education

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by Jason Whitlock
Kansas City Star

When the checks totaling more than $50,000 arrived in his mailbox, 11-year-old Jordan Coleman dreamed of fresh sneakers, new video games and a fly wardrobe.

His mother, Chrisena Coleman, fantasized about a different reward. She wanted her son to take a hefty portion of his paycheck from being the voice of Tyrone the Moose on Nickelodeon’s “The Backyardigans” to inspire other African-American boys to excel in school.

“It’s unconscionable for a child to make that kind of money and not help people,” said Chrisena, a reporter for the New York Daily News.

After some initial shock, Jordan agreed with his mother.

“I thought it was OK,” he said.

Things got better when Jordan and his mother decided to use the money to make a movie, “Say It Loud.” The film is a documentary featuring celebrity athletes and entertainers talking about the importance of education. Interspersed between the celeb interviews is the fictional story line of Jordan studying for a science test while his best friends/classmates party and socialize like rock stars.

Jordan, of course, aced the test and his friends bombed theirs. The whole scenario wrapped up in about 45 minutes, and everyone from Kobe Bryant to rapper Yung Joc to Rev. Al Sharpton to a New York district attorney sat down on camera and chopped it up with Jordan, now 12.

The film will be shown Wednesday morning at AMC Barrywoods 24. Admission is just a dollar, and the doors open at 9 a.m. “Say It Loud” will be shown after the 10 a.m. showing of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

If you’re the parent of a child or care about the future of black boys, you should bring a kid to Wednesday’s showing. Jordan and his mom will be there to talk about the movie and their commitment to education. The movie is powerful and inspiring.

Kobe Bryant made the strongest impression on Jordan.

“Once you develop a knowledge base, you have ultimate control over your destiny,” Bryant told Jordan in the movie. “Once you acquire that knowledge, there’s nothing they can do with you.”

But David Banks, the principal at Eagle Academy for Young Men, offered the most chilling commentary in the movie when he summarized his thoughts about more than 50 percent of African-American boys failing to graduate from high school.

“There are lots of teachers who for some reason inherently just don’t seem to think that black boys are as capable of achieving academically as well as other students,” Banks told Jordan. “It’s a problem that starts very, very early on, and it just kind of feeds on itself over time. Growing up in a culture that suggests to them they shouldn’t demonstrate how smart they are, just show how cool they can be.

“It is so far beyond crisis that this whole country should be up in arms around what’s happening with our boys.”

Instead, we pretend as if it’s not happening and get irate if someone we don’t like brings it up.

We pretend that the only way to fix it is by spending more money. We act as if many black boys aren’t trapped in a culture that simply doesn’t value education. We convince ourselves that all racism must disappear before black boys can succeed academically.

I have bad news. If we continue to wait for racism to evaporate and for better-funded schools, black boys are going to fall farther behind Asian, white and Hispanic kids.

That’s what I love about Jordan’s movie. He’s not waiting on Don Imus or anybody to love him before going for his. He gets it. His mom gets it.


One Response

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  1. “I thought it was OK,” he said.

    Lol, Im glad he has a level headed mother to guide him right.


    July 8, 2008 at 9:29 pm

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