Afterbirth of a Nation: Urban Critical Pedagogy and Ghetto-centric Film Since Boyz n the Hood

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Afterbirth of a Nation: Urban Critical Pedagogy and Ghetto-centric Film Since Boyz n the Hood



An hundred years after the release of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, the film remains on the list of the best films of all time. It is standard as a part of film studies’ curricula. A box office success, Birthpopularized countless filmmaking techniques that remain central to the art today. Yet, despite it’s commercial and artistic notoriety, Birth of a Nation is not immune to the controversy of being one of the most racist films ever. It celebrates the rise of the KKK while demonizing black men during America’s Reconstruction. The negative effects of its treatment of black men have had a lasting legacy on public sentiment towards racial minorities. It has been dogged mostly for its depictions of black men [white men in blackface] as violent and sexually deviant with a thirst for white flesh.


In 1991, director John Singleton released Boyz n the Hood, a critically acclaimed film that brought the gritty life of the inner city to Hollywood’s movie screens.  Boyz has been celebrated for its authentic depictions of gang violence and the realities of poverty for urban black youth.Boyz introduced us to John Singleton and can be counted as his singular, greatest work earning him an Oscar nod and much fanfare. 


Ever on the path to follow Boyz’ success, filmmakers have chosen the inner-city as the setting for films featuring African-American casts, This text intends to inspire critical reflection and analysis of critically-significant films set in urban environments released after Boyz n the Hoodboth as a way to understand Singleton’s impact and legacy but also to critically exam the ghetto-centric genre for its value for impacting to critical urban pedagogy.


Topics for discussion may include (but are not specifically restrictive):


  • Individual films or a collective representation
  • Race and racial identity
  • Implications for using themes films in social justice education
  • Gentrification and poverty
  • Roles of fathers and male role models
  • The myth of the “strong” black single mother
  • The social, cultural, and political forces within urban education that relate to teaching students of color
  • Themes of resistance and uplift
  • Rol(s) of teachers, principals, school administrators, and other authority figures
  • Examinations of structural and/or systemic racism


Double-spaced proposals and abstracts (250-500-words limit) should be sent to by October 1, 2019. Ist draft of the chapter should be received by January 15, 2020. 

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