Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Boston's Busing Desegregation Crisis


Can We Talk? was produced, written and directed by media producer Scott Mercer and filmed by Justin Shannahan. The film offers powerful stories of the 1970’s busing/desegregation crisis that changed Boston forever. Most of those in the film have never publicly shared their stories. It documents how this crisis is still felt today. It aspires to prompt a long-overdue honest conversation about public education and racism, classism, and social injustices that have plagued not only the Boston public schools, but the city of Boston as a community. Personal and intimate testimonials fill the screen. They include a bus driver who delivered children to neighborhoods and schools that didn’t want them. A resident of the projects whose admittedly racist family refused to let her be bused to a school with children of color talks about how she was shunned and stigmatized for being poor in the school she attended instead. We also learn from a parent who got involved in politics by accident because of the forces of systemic racism that denied quality of education and simple respect. These individuals express their feelings, thoughts, and opinions in a candid, honest and, at times, raw way. The film offers powerful stories of the 1970’s busing/desegregation crisis that changed Boston forever. Most of those in the film have never publicly shared their stories. It documents how this crisis is still felt today. It aspires to prompt a long-overdue honest conversation about public education and racism, classism, and social injustices that have plagued not only the Boston public schools, but the city of Boston as a community.


Personal and intimate testimonials fill the screen. They include a bus driver who delivered children to neighborhoods and schools that didn’t want them. A resident of the projects whose admittedly racist family refused to let her be bused to a school with children of color talks about how she was shunned and stigmatized for being poor in the school she attended instead+. We also learn from a parent who got involved in politics by accident because of the forces of systemic racism that denied quality of education and simple respect. These individuals express their feelings, thoughts, and opinions in a candid, honest and, at times, raw way.


While these stories are powerful, there are many, many more stories is to be told if this period is to be understood. The film is an invitation to a process of truth, learning and change and a much larger discussion of what everyone can learn from this iconic period in Boston. The film is a vehicle to help spark honest reflections, dialogues and conversations across the city that would help lead to truth telling about and learning from this era and ultimately to deepen engagement in and commitment to strengthening Boston’s public school system for all its residents. 



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