Many African American families are suffering from the violence and substance abuse in their towns today, as reflected in the film “Boys of Baraka”. This film focuses on four young African American boys and their families from an inner city in Baltimore; Richard and brother Romash, Devon, and Montrey. As a result of the lack of discipline and an increased violence rate, these African American boys are suffering education-wise. Luckily, the Baraka School in Africa was designed for these children and gave them hope of bettering their lives as they enter high school.
Due to the family’s situation dealing with their surrounding city, the five ways a family will thrive and function that we learned in class definitely pertain to “Boys of Baraka”. The family function, as we learned in class, is how a family operates to care for its members. Each family of the four African American boys that were selected to join the Baraka School in Africa portrayed the function in different ways. The first basic function is providing those basic necessities to survive, such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Richard and his brother, Devon, and Montrey’s families are able to provide the best necessities that they can for their boys under some of the families certain financial circumstances. While Montrey has no father because he is in jail, and Devon struggles to deal with his mother’s drug abuse, the boys have everything they need to live a day-to-day lifestyle. Even without a father, and an unstable mother Montrey, Devon, Richard, and Romash’s families encourage the second family function; learning.
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The main reason the mothers fight so hard for their boys to be accepted into the Baraka School is because they care for their son’s and only want them to succeed academically. The third family function we discussed is self-respect. By devoting themselves to work inorder to help support their families, the mothers of these ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen year-old boys also try to embodied self-respect into their sons. The boys struggle to develop self-respect but looking back, the Baraka School really helped them to shape their self awareness and forced them to become self critical of their school work.
As the fourth family function, nurturing peer relationships is the most common problem amongst the boys in Baltimore. Because the crime rate is so high in the boy’s town, they have become accustomed to seeing people fighting, drinking and smoking, and being arrested. Richard and his brother, Devon, and Montrey all have a good head on their shoulder, but even that can’t be enough to protect them from the crimes that other African American boys eventually grow into.
This reason alone is why the mothers of these four boys try so hard to send them away from Baltimore for a good education that will prepare them for high school and later a diploma, then possibly college. The last family function is ensuring stability and harmony, in other words providing predictable routines for their kids. As the mothers try so hardly to structure a perfect lifestyle for their sons, it is visible that it simply can’t be done in the city of Baltimore. While trying to ensure stability and harmony as a single mother, or a mother under the influence it can be hard to do so and as a result, the kids suffer.
The Baraka School was designed for this reason and gives the boys a stable routine that will change their lives completely and ultimately prepare them for the real world. The film shows how much Richard and his brother, Devon, and Montrey’s families need the Baraka School to give their children a chance to escape the troubled lives they are in. The issue of family troubles affects the Baraka boys and has a huge impact on their lives educationally and socially. Because most of the boy’s families are struggling with income, poverty definitely affects the four African American boys.
A lack of income certainly affects a stable, healthy, and all around good life style for the children. Lacking in these issues will certainly lead to a greater chance of the boys joining the crimes that surround them. While praying that it will not affect their son’s the mothers even admitted that they are bound to join in on the street crimes that occur right outside their doorstep. The harmony within the families that is portrayed in “Boys of Baraka” cannot necessarily guarantee that the boys will live a crime free life.
As I said before, by not providing a complete stable lifestyle the kids might not succeed in school and will lead them to dropping out and joining the crime. Also looking back, the Baraka School really helped to show the boys that they are better than the street life around them and could actually go somewhere in life. It amazes me that even after one year of attending the Baraka School in Africa, the boy’s attitudes about learning changed completely. Even just an attitude change could potentially save these African American boys from joining a lifestyle that has no importance.
I was truly touched by the “Boys of Baraka” film because it gives you a real life example of how poorly some people actually have it. I believe that Richard and his brother, Devon, and Montrey, will succeed in life and make a name for themselves other than among the streets of Baltimore if they really wish to. Even just changing the fate of young boys in the inner cities, like the Baraka School did for Richard and his brother, Devon, and Montrey, could be enough to save them from a lifestyle of regret and unfortunates.
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