“You don’t have to be wealthy or come from a certain neighborhood to have your voice heard using media,” said Tiarra Epps, 21, an Illinois Institute of Art student majoring in digital filmmaking, at the second We Are Not Alone anti-violence campaign event on Tuesday June 28.
As a future documentarian born and raised in Englewood, Epps is tired of hearing negative stories about her community, let alone witness the divide and misperceptions that, according to her, exists between low income communities like Englewood and other neighborhoods in Chicago.
“There are many issues that our mainstream media doesn’t broadcast,” said Epps. “That’s why I started at a young age,” referring to her goal of becoming a filmmaker.
With her career, Epps plans to tell the local success stories many times overlooked by the mainstream media.
Tuesday’s event brought to light many other positive initiatives in the city. Karla Manning, high school English teacher for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), spoke about her efforts to highlight the success and academic achievements of high school students in CPS as a way to counteract the ongoing negative stories published regularly in the media.
“We see a lot of negativity, not only [related to] African Americans but many people of color in the media,” said Manning. “I was tired of always hearing the [same] stories. Because I teach English, I had the chance to see different sides of our youth in high school. So, I decided to do a film about the successful African American students in Chicago.”
Like Manning and Epps, representatives from TrueStar Magazine, THE GATE newspaper, Enlace Chicago, local schools and Cease Fire talked about local initiatives geared to break the cycle of violence shadowing neighborhoods along with younger generations.
The We Are Not Alone campaign was initially launched in partnership with the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council/THE GATE newspaper and the Community Media Workshop last November. Today, the campaign has gained the support of city wide anti-violence agencies, local news sites, community advocates and other citywide publications.
To learn more about the campaign and to share your success story check out the We Are Not Alone campaign on Facebook.
By Adriana Cardona