Woke Up Black (clip)


Morten, Mary




"“Woke Up Black” is a 2011 documentary produced and directed by filmmaker Mary Morten that focuses on five African-American college students from the Chicago area. The youth, ages 16-21, represent a diversity of backgrounds and interests, and serve to expand viewers' understanding of both the challenges and triumphs of young African-Americans today. This particular clip follows a nineteen year old woman named Morgan, a Bio-Medical Engineering major who grew up in suburban Chicago and is used to functioning in a mostly white environment. Morgan's identity and relationship to race, as displayed in this clip, is complex. She is both proud to defy stereotypes for young African-American women and craving an African-American community, something she does not have at her out-of-state university. Morgan's experience elicits questions about diversity, community, difference, stereotypes, and whether we can truly understand and relate to people who have different identities than us.

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Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceIdentity and CommunityRace, Ethnicity and Culture

Big Questions

What makes it possible for us to connect to others? What gets in the way?How do we connect with those who are different from us?Is diversity important? Why?To what extent does your identity determine the communities you join?What do people gain or lose from joining a group or a community?How does race affect our relations to others?


Clip: 3:57-7:38

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of the things that we know about Morgan and her background?
  2. What are some of the challenges that Morgan faces as a young African-American woman?
  3. Why does Morgan feel like she's “missing something” at her out-of-state university?
  4. How does your identity impact the people you surround yourself with or the communities that you become a part of?
  5. Do you think that Morgan needs to have friends who are African-American?
  6. What can people of other races, class backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, etc. understand about one another? What can they relate to? What can they not understand?
  7. Where do you see yourself in this video? Where, if anywhere, do you fit?
  8. Is it important to know—and understand— the experiences of people different from you? Why or why not?
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