What inspired Attention AmeriCa: We Beg Your Pardon?
The inspiration came one night while I was driving home from rehearsal. A few months prior I graduated from Howard University and that evening there was a huge disconnect from this place I called home. I felt like I was in one world and my home was in another. As I stared out my window I saw nothing but death, empty lots, abandoned houses, failed businesses, lost people and blood of the next generation covering the streets of Chicago. With all of the questions that rushed to me, not one plausible response or answer followed. By the 10th ambulance that sped passed me that night, I knew I had to remove the muzzle and free my restricted voice. God had given me inspiration to speak. At that moment I did not know how I was going to do it, in what format, who would join me or what the results would be but I HAD TO SPEAK!
What inspired the title?
The title was inspired from a song by Gil Scott Heron. A lot of what he was saying resonated with what I was seeing in Chicago and across the United States. I wanted to WAKE AMERICA UP and flip the dialogue of what I was seeing in the media so the title came to me and it just stuck.
What will the audience see in this film?
The audience will encounter inspiring teachers, students, doctors and local residents who share their concerns about the city and solutions to fixing these problems. My team and I visited the city’s largest festival the “Taste of Chicago,” “Let Me Live” Peace March and the Bud Billiken Parade to discuss topics with the community. Topics such as gentrification, laws, the family structure, and solutions to other issues that are plaguing the Windy City.
What type of story does this film tell?
Attention AmeriCa tells the story of everyday people connecting audiences with real experiences, personal narratives and concrete ways to engage the rest of America in a new image of Chicago.
What is different about this Chicago story versus the other narratives in the media?
To be frank, I was disturbed at seeing narratives about Chicago created by others who had not submerged themselves in the culture of the city before broadcasting their stories. Rarely have people in the community been visited by these “other narratives.” Many have not talked to the locals or small business owners, visited schools or interacted with the young people. In my opinion, the highest form of disrespect is to create a narrative about someone without asking them about it. So in return I ask you what is the focus point of these “other narratives”? Why would you want to ignore the very people you are doing your story about? Is this any different from a slave on a screen being sold by a slave owner with a microphone in their hand or a camera on their shoulder?
Will your documentary give some magical resolution that has not been said before?
No, because you can’t provide a solution in 50 minutes to an issue that has been plaguing a society for over 100 years. That’s impossible. What I hope this docu-series will inspire is dialogue and action. It also creates a platform for various voices to be heard. All the answers won’t be given. I’m still finding new solutions myself everyday.
What can we expect next from Attention AmeriCa: We Beg You Pardon?
I am gearing up for the second installment of the docu-series. Looking to dive more into topics like gun control, the church, policies in Springfield, employment opportunities, education, escape for the next generation and hope.