Colour Me the FilmAnthony McLean is showing six teens what it means to black. The catch – he’s not sure what it means himself. Motivational speaker Anthony McLean is sick of stereotypes that surround the black community. He’s sick of documentaries that profile “at-risk” youth. He’s sick of persisting rhetoric on the “black struggle.”

He wants things to change. So, for five months, Anthony is taking six youth on a journey to discover what it really means to be black.

The backdrop to this group’s introspection is Brampton, Ontario – one of Canada’s fastest growing, ethnically dominated suburbs. At its heart is Fletcher’s Meadow high school, which has a seventy percent black student population.

Today, Anthony is a husband and father of two children. He’s confident, charming and talented. Audiences love him and kids admire him. By most accounts, Anthony McLean is successful and sure of himself.

But inside, he knows differently. As he walks through life, the voices of his childhood haunt him. Born to a white mother and black father in the sleepy town of Sharon, Ontario, Anthony and his brother were the only two people of colour for miles around. At thirty, he’s finally ready to take a hard look at his own identity.

The teens asks themselves tough questions. Why do middle-class suburban black teens dress, talk and walk like they live in the ‘hood? Why is getting a good education seen as ‘selling out’? And after black communities’ struggle for education, equality and freedom, why are more black youth dropping out and behind bars?

Anthony is left with serious questions of his own, such as: Why do I behave differently with my black friends than with my white family? Why am I trying to conceal my ‘whiteness’?

When rates of black youth in crime and teen pregnancy rise to match our American neighbours, this film asks why, while exploring the confines of race, the complexities of identity, and the need for everyone to find their voice.


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