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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The People's Report: Wilmington, Delaware

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Yasser Payne
This documentary is a long time coming. For those who know all of the shades of Wilmington, Delaware, UP CLOSE, the devastating effects of an ineffective education system and lack of job opportunities in the city is not news. Now the documentary, The People's Report, brings the despair and dichotomy between the haves and have nots in Wilmington to light in a most provocative way.
Kudos to Yasser Payne, University of Delaware Associate Professor of Black American Studies, who put a lot of work, research, and passion into helping to get this film made.

The People’s Report, a Teleduction/Hearts and Minds film production that reveals the in-depth details about the prolific violence and apathy in Wilmington, will be shown at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts next week on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 12 p.m.

Doubling as a research project and film, The People’s Report, includes data collected by Payne and 15 Wilmington residents (21 to 48 years old) from Southbridge and the East Side that Payne trained to participate in the project. Payne and these community recruits created a survey, conducted more than 500 interviews, and analyzed their findings. His process, called participatory action research (PAR), involves using members of the target population, as part of the research team.

“We equipped them all with a skill set,” Payne told radio station WDDE. “They received two months of training, the same as doctoral students get, and they were paid $17 an hour.” Payne, who grew up in Harlem and Englewood, N.J., told WDDE that the PAR approach is effective because “the people in the community that is being studied are also experts.” Their lives are invested in the communities and so they are vigorously motivated to gather information and ultimately, to help implement change.

The opening of the film gives an overview of what’s to come, as these words are shown on the screen:

“Wilmington, Delaware is a small city of 73,000 people.”

“Its violent crime rate per capita is among the worst in the nation.”

“In 2010 a team of 15 researchers, part of a Participatory Action Research project took to the streets, armed with cameras and clipboards to find out why.”

Here are some of the gripping questions the PAR survey asks:


-- How many times have you yourself actually been shot with a gun? -- How many times have you heard about someone else getting shot with a gun? -- Have you ever had a relative killed with a gun?
A majority of the survey respondents reported losing at least one family member (55 percent) and/or at least one friend (59 percent) to gun violence. About 25 percent indicated that they had been attacked or stabbed with a knife at least once, and another 20 percent reported that they had been shot at least once.

The survey also found that 44 percent of the respondents did not have a high school diploma, 64 percent total (70 percent of the men), were unemployed, and 64 percent of the respondents lived in low-income housing.

We also learn from the film that for the first time in three years, a male student from South Bridge graduated from high school.

“The loss of jobs and quality school opportunities is predicative of physical violence,” Payne says. “We are advocating for Wilmington and the state of Delaware to find innovative ways to bring more high quality jobs and better educational opportunities to these communities.”

But Payne hopes that the intervention in the lives of the PAR team members and the issues that the film raises will help to turn things around in Wilmington.

“The PAR team is required to organize an action agenda to complement the data analysis,” Payne said. In other words, the PAR team is expected to formulate ways to make their communities better.

If you plan to be in the Wilmington area on Wednesday, May 29 — Go see this film!

Click here for more information about The People’s Report, directed by Sharon Baker and produced by Daniel Collins.

Go here to register to see The People’s Report and attend the lecture following the film.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our Vice President is from Delaware. Is there any way that I can add this on to the WHITE HOUSE BLOG. Or maybe I can e-mail it to you and you can link it to it. Hopefully they check messages and not just add things.

Love MaDear

Alicia Benjamin said...

Oh yeah. I'm sure Joe Biden knows all about this.
Yes, let's try it. You can send me the blog address and I'll try to add this to it!

Thanks!

Love,
alicia

Anonymous said...

Wow…you never hear about this on the news…Thanks

Alicia Benjamin said...

I know! Only people from the area would really know. It's been that way for a very long time and it's about time that somebody is bringing this attention to it and trying to do something about it! As you know, I'm from the area and have seen this mess UP CLOSE!

God bless Prof. Payne for making a change!