Codeswitching: Race And Identity In The Suburban Schoolhouse
Premiered Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV (not available to stream on demand)
“CodeSwitching” is a mashup of personal stories from three generations of students enrolled in a groundbreaking voluntary desegregation program. It explores shifting race relations in the suburban-urban axis, teen self-perception, and the role gender plays in fitting-in.
Enlisting a character-based approach, the film is a moving look at the upside, and drawbacks, of years of constant code-switching. As students shuttle back and forth between the urban neighborhoods and the suburbs, they swap elements of culture, language, and behavior.
Participants in METCO, or, the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, benefit from the venerable Boston/Springfield/Suburban effort in educational enhancement. Most achieve enviable academic success while some find navigating between the two highly-segregated worlds difficult.
Our storyline draws out the predicaments — alienation and it’s side effects — that often face high school and middle school teenage girls in METCO. They can feel estranged from their neighborhood friends and isolated at school. Stresses that their male counterparts may avoid, as teenage boys can reap thicker status and social benefits from athletics.
Employing documentary footage, theatrical sets, animation, and original music, “CodeSwitching” examines how the growing influence of social media may affect future generations of “Code Switchers.” Are they prepared for what lies ahead?
What is code-switching?
Students who shuttle between their inner-city neighborhoods and the white suburban schools, in pursuit of a better education, find themselves swapping elements of culture, language, and behavior to fit in with their suburban counterparts. They may act or speak differently based on where they are, called code-switching.
Director: Jonathan Schwartz. Editor: Sean Strelow. Narrator: Naheem Garcia. Executive Producer: Howard Wolk. Co-Producer: Mike Mascoll, LEV Media Group. A presentation of Interlock Media, Inc.