September 17, 2019

Triton College Library to host screenings of America to Me Real Talk this fall

Community members are invited to join Triton College students, faculty and staff throughout the fall 2019 semester for screenings of the documentary series America to Me, each followed by a conversation featuring Triton College faculty members. Faculty conversation participants include  Risé Sanders-Weir (producer of the docuseries, communications), Eugene Muhammad (philosophy),  Dr. Daniele Manni (philosophy), Dr. Ruth Hallongren (psychology), Gail Krahenbuhl (English), Jose Ocampo Barrera (writer, Tutoring Center), Victor McCollum (sociology), Dr. Sheldon Turner (science), Leke Adeofa (philosophy), Dr. Gabriel Guzman (science) and others.

The award-winning 10-part series first aired in 2018, examining race, economic and class issues while following students during a school year at Oak Park River Forest High School (OPRFHS). America to Me has been lauded by critics for facilitating important discussions about issues that students face throughout the country.

“Few people want to talk about racism, but rarely has the conversation been more important. Leave it to (Steve) James to find a way in for us all,” wrote Ben Travers of IndieWire.  

The series was directed by Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop DreamsLife Itself). Triton College Communications faculty member Risé Sanders-Weir served as a producer on the series. America to Me was included in the New York Times list of Best TV Shows of 2018.

The screenings are hosted by the Triton College Library and are free to attend.

America to Me screenings are scheduled as follows:

(Episode descriptions provided by 

Episode 1: Context Matters: The Permanence of Racism
Tuesday, Sept. 17, noon-2 p.m., B Building, Room B-170A
Wednesday, Sept. 18, 6 p.m., Library, Silent Room A-321

In Episode One, we meet some OPRFHS students of color and their families, who have sacrificed to live in this popular district. Their stories begin to reveal the racial cracks and realities of the permanence of racism. 

Episode 2: Living or Surviving: Whose Humanity is Valued?
Tuesday, Sept. 24, noon-2 p.m., B Building, Room B-170A
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 6 p.m., Library, Silent Room A-321

As we meet more students at OPRFHS, we start to see where the students of color are able to live as their authentic selves and where they’re just surviving. Extracurricular activities like Spoken Word Club offer safe, validating spaces for students like Charles and Chanti to explore their racial identities. Yet students like Ke’Shawn and Terrence are left searching. 

Episode 3: Racialized Relationships in Families and Communities
Tuesday, Oct. 1, noon-2 p.m., B Building, Room B-170A
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m., Library, Silent Room A-321

By Episode 3, the racial cracks at OPRFHS are becoming more apparent, as are the complexities of Oak Park’s racialized relationships. Terrence’s relationship with his mother, Jada’s and Charles’s interactions with their physics teacher, and teacher Jessica Stovall’s experiences with her family and work all illustrate the diversity of racial relationships and their power to impact identity, self-image and success. 

Episode 4: Agency Among Different Racial Groups
Tuesday, Oct. 8, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 9, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

Episode 4 offers a vivid example of the impact of agency. When an individual feels a sense of agency – like Ke’Shawn in his theater class – they feel like they have control over their choices and actions, and the ability to advocate for themselves. Agency impacts our self-image, our sense of belonging and contribution, and our ability to succeed. So when Ke’Shawn’s agency is taken away by school’s security, it impacts much more than just his ability to participate. 

Episode 5: Academic Expectations Based on Race
Tuesday, Oct. 15, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 16, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

In Episode 5, we meet a new group of white students, whose experiences contrast with those of the school’s students of color. One key area of difference involves academic expectations – what is expected of the white students academically as opposed to the students of color, and the influence that those high or low expectations have on the students’ placement (Honors Track, College Prep, etc.), teacher attention, student motivation and academic success. 

Episode 6: Racial Identity Development
Tuesday, Oct. 22, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 23, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

By spring semester in Episode 6, the students of color encounter a fresh set of opportunities and obstacles along their paths to developing their racial identities. Kendale achieves a big goal, while Tiara’s dreams are dashed. Charles’s voice is validated with a team victory, but Jada’s attempt to express her voice through film is challenged for being too provocative. 

Episode 7: Whiteness
Tuesday, Oct. 29, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 30, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

In Episode 7, students experience a series of thrilling victories (Kendale’s overtime win and Charles’s rise in spoken word) and crushing blows (Terrence’s graduation news and Ke’Shawn’s home situation). As they fight to achieve the “American dream,” we begin to see the white cultural origins of that dream and how it impacts everyone’s lives at OPRFHS. 

Episode 8: Code Switching: Managing Multiple Racial Identities
Tuesday, Nov. 5, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

Identities, both authentic and assumed, play a strong role in Episode 8, as we see the students, teachers, and families of OPRFHS navigating multiple identities and finding the need to code switch in order to fit in and achieve recognition at the school. 

Episode 9: Racial Fatigue & Self-preservation
Tuesday, Nov. 12, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

By Episode 9, Chanti and Caroline experience fatigue as women of color, as does teacher Jessica Stovall as she continues to engage the administration in piloting an equity program that benefits all faculty and students. Both students of color like Tiara and white students like Brendan continue to spiral from emotional and physical fatigue as they navigate their experience at OPRFHS. 

Episode 10: Collective Responsibility
Tuesday, Nov. 19, noon-2 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6 p.m.
Library, Silent Room A-321

In the final episode of America to Me, we witness the resilience of the students and teachers of OPRFHS in their quest to find agency, racial identity validation and community. Their stories demonstrate that individual steps towards equity are important, but it takes everyone working together to create long-lasting, systemic change. Transformation is a collective action that requires intentional commitment and involvement to make the necessary systemic changes. No one can opt out.

For more information on the America to Me series, visit For more details on the screenings visit: