South Bronx Teacher Explains “Black and Cuba” is Essential

2013-05-09 18.14.26

This past May, Progressive Pupil held a Work-in-Progress screening of “Black and Cuba” at Aspire Preparatory School, a charter school located in the South Bronx. Aspire is made up of a large student body with about 100% Black and Latino youth. Our film was shown to 7th and 8th grade students in Uraline Hager’s special education class. In this video, Ms. Hager addresses her thoughts on “Black and Cuba” to parents and teachers. She specifically speaks about the significance of showing this film to young students of color, and how “Black and Cuba” can be an educational tool for youth that helps them connect to real world issues they are faced with that are ironically not taught in the classroom.

Unfortunately, due to poor test grades and low performance ratings based on citywide standards, the Bloomberg Administration shut down Aspire Prep after the 2012-2013 academic year. The school survived for just six years. Too many times, inner-city schools made up of primarily Black and Latino populations are faced with closures due to poor performance, and yet the Department of Education rarely provides the facilities and academic amenities necessary for struggling schools to excel. Resources must be reallocated for schools in decline, instead of putting them on the “most dangerous schools” list like Aspire. It takes films like “Black and Cuba” to truly open the discussion for the first time, as well as reflect, learn and grow from the experiences that Blacks and Latinos are faced with against education policy in our nation.

By Claudie Mabry

M.S. Candidate in Urban Policy Analysis and Management, 2014

Leave a comment


  1. Elliott Anderson

     /  December 4, 2013

    I strongly agree that these types of issues need to be raised earlier in the educational system in our country. The subject matter that “Black and Cuba” explores is something that I didn’t get exposure to until I took an undergraduate sociology class on rich and poor nations. I remember being downright flabbergasted at some of the information I was being exposed to then for the first time, and I felt somewhat cheated that I had made it twenty years without having a better understanding of world issues outside of what’s taught in traditional classes for my public education. I believe that Ms. Hager was doing these students an enormous favor by sharing something real with them in a way that not too many burgeoning teenagers are granted access, and it’s an absolute shame that our system of evaluation can’t recognize its value.


  2. Samar S.

     /  December 17, 2013

    It is very unfortunate how the department of education does not see it as a necessity to provide these inner-city schools with the right facilities and academic amenities to ensure a fair and ‘just’ education system for all children and teenagers. Ms. Hager has obviously realized the potential of these students, and despite all the odds in her favor, she did the very best she could to create educational tools for her students to help them to relate to the real issues of the world.
    Hopefully her actions have inspired others to follow in her footsteps.



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