top of page

"BALANCED" SHORT FILM                                                                              SHOT/EDITED BY: JORDAN ARMSTRONG

                                                                                         DIRECTED BY: MAXWELL SHAVERS & JORDAN ARMSTRONG

HARMONY is multiple distinct parts working together in unison. One isn’t subtracting from another. They each play their role and support each other while doing so. Black lives haven’t been fully supported since before America was created, and without the support for black lives there is no HARMONY.

On August 20th, 1619, around 20 Africans, who were kidnapped by the Portuguese, were brought to the British colony of Virginia and then bought by English Colonists. This singular event marks the beginning of 2 plus centuries of slavery in North America.

Those few Africans brought to the new land against their will multiplied over the years. Children were born into captivity and instantly became owners of their mothers’ master. Entire families were owned together and then in an instant separated in slave auctions. Slaves took on the last names of their masters which followed them through time. A few misplaced Africans grew into a mass of generations born into captivity.

From the slave trade, through the civil war, Jim Crow, 13th amendment, institutionalized racism and senseless police brutality cases, black people in the United States have endured countless tragedies and hardships based simply on the darkness of their skin.

Today as we look back on the 200 plus years of slavery it is evident that we have come a long way in terms of equality. But there is so much more that we need to do.

The discrimination present during the creation of our country was so immense that it continues to linger today. It leads people to inherently look at black people in a different context than others. It leads people to turn a blind eye when it comes to the way that black people in our country are struggling in different capacities. It leads people to oppose when one cries out “Black Lives Matter”.

It’s more than that though. It leads black boys and girls to grow up in an environment that puts them at a disadvantage. A disadvantage that follows them throughout their lives. It leads explicit racism to thrive in rural areas and subconscious racism to do the same everywhere else. It leads black people to be incarcerated and stopped by the police at an alarming rate compared to their white counterparts. The lingering discrimination prohibits Americans of all creeds and colors from living harmoniously among each other.

We must set aside the differences, prejudices, and stereotypes that keep us distant from the unity that the vision of our country should be. Sympathy and understanding must be in abundance. Ignorance and refusal to learn must be cast to the wayside. If we are able to do this, the strengths of each one of us will be multiplied.

“No one is free until we are all free,” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King Jr. Pittsburgh has been represented as “America’s Most Livable City” but this seems to only be true if you are white. A study conducted in 2019 by a team of University of Pittsburgh researchers concluded that if black residents moved to the majority of any other cities in the U.S., their life expectancy would go up, their income would go up, their educational opportunities for their children would go up, as well as their employment. Key findings in the report include:

  • Pittsburgh has a high maternal mortality rate for Black women and a high rate of homicide for Black men. The study concluded that, “Black adult mortality rates are higher in Pittsburgh than in 98 percent of similar cities.”

  • Pittsburgh has low college admission test scores and high rates of police referrals for all students, compared to other cities. The report notes that police referrals are “disproportionately affecting Pittsburgh's Black children and have a lasting impact on their educational attainment and economic well-being.”

  • Black women and children are more likely to live in poverty in Pittsburgh than in comparable cities.

  • The report looked at “occupational segregation,” a phenomenon where one group is more likely to hold a certain type of job than another group. For example, a high concentration of Black men work maintenance jobs, while a high concentration of white men work in construction. Researchers found that Pittsburgh has high occupational segregation for Black men but low occupational segregation for white, Asian, Latin, and Native women.

  • The city’s Black girls are less likely to drop out of high school or college once they begin, though fewer Black girls in Pittsburgh go on to college than Black girls in other cities. Pittsburgh also has a comparably high rate of graduate degrees among Black men and all Asian, Latin, and Native people.

The protection of black men and women needs to be prioritized. Being located in Pittsburgh we wanted to make known the tragic death of Marquis Jaylen Brown and the inspiring love that his mother Danielle has shown through a hunger strike to obtain the truth of his passing. Brown died on October 4th 2018 by mysteriously falling from his 16th floor dorm. There were 3 police officers and an RA in his room at the time of his death. Duquesne University immediately declared his death a suicide without investigation. It took 4 months to release an autopsy report insinuating the cause of death was related to marijuana. Danielle deserves answers and JB deserves justice. We demand an independent investigation with full access to information and resources, body cameras for all university police, and mandatory certification training in mental health crisis intervention and de-escalation for police and first responders. There are ways for you to help including:

When it comes to the abuse of power of police in this country, we need to make a change. These innocent black men and women shown above are all more than a name. Their lives were taken by the evil of police brutality and will never be forgotten. We're at the point where the very words people use to plead for their lives can be repurposed as shorthand for completely separate tragedies. The website reports that since 2013, black people have been 28% of those killed by police despite being only 13% of the population. Black people are 3x more likely to be killed by police than white people. These are horrific numbers and if nothing is done they will continue to grow.

Each story correlating to these deaths are tragic. Whether it’s Breonna Taylor sleeping in bed, George Floyd going to the grocery store, Eric Reason pulling into the parking lot of a local chicken and fish shop, or Philando Castle driving home from dinner with his girlfriend; We need to put an end to the unnecessary violence brought on by these police officers.

To get a better understanding of what can be done, please go to the Campaign Zero website presented by the non-profit organization, WeTheProtestors. LINK:

Black Lives Matter is not a trend, this is a reality. We must all work together to create Harmony throughout our country and fight for the betterment of black lives.


Commenting has been turned off.