Spurred by Rihanna and Chris Brown, One Teenager Tries to Curb Teen Dating Violence

By NICK CHILES

Did you know that one in three American teenagers has experienced some form of dating violence? That’s such an outrageous statistic—made even more outrageous by the fact that so many people aren’t aware of it. But while most of us are content to shake our heads in disbelief when we hear the statistic and then go about our business, one amazing New Jersey teenager decided that he had to do something.

His name is Jordan Coleman and he is the genius behind “Payin’ the Price,” a feature film he wrote and directed to bring national attention to the problem of teen dating violence. Jordan was just 14 when he got the idea, spurred by all the controversy and debate that swirled around him and his peers after the Chris Brown/Rihanna abuse incident. Jordan sat down, wrote a script and began filming in and around his hometown of Hackensack, New Jersey, using his own money. If you are ever feeling hopeless about the future of our youth and need to be restored, ten minutes around Jordan Coleman should do the trick!

Now 16, Jordan is about to embark on a 20-city national tour, including stops in New York City (Feb. 12), Bloomfield, NJ (Feb. 1), Newark (Feb. 8 and 15), Atlanta (Mar. 29-Apr.1), Baltimore (Feb. 24), Boston (Mar. 15), Cleveland (Mar. 25), Durham (Feb. 10) and Washington, D.C.  Each screening will be followed by a Q-and-A with the young filmmaker, who hopes to use his movie as a vehicle to spark a national conversation. The film has already started picking up awards—it won the 2011 HBO Best Feature Film competition at the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival.

“Everyone had an opinion about what happened between Chris and Rihanna,” Jordan said. “The incident brought teen dating violence into American homes like never before. To this day, I know kids who debate about who was right and who was wrong with some even taking the position the abuse was warranted.”

Jordan Coleman

This is not the first spin in the limelight for this remarkable young man. As a child, Jordan starred in Nickelodeon’s children’s series “The Backyardigans” as the voice of Tyrone the Moose. When he was just 12, Jordan wrote and directed his first film, a 47-minute documentary called “Say It Loud” that brought attention to the importance of education and the need for young black boys to stay in school. Jordan structured the documentary around the daydreams of a young boy who is stuck at home doing his homework and who is magically transported to face-to-face interviews with such luminaries as Kobe Bryant, Ludacris, Michael Strahan, Rev. Al Sharpton, Busta Rhymes and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Family Circle magazine recently chose Jordan as one of “Five Teens Who Are Making a Difference.”

Jordan said he wanted to use his second film, “Payin’ the Price,” to get his peers to recognize that violence is “never okay.”

“And if you do not take a stand against it now, allowing this type of abuse could follow you your entire life and can have devastating consequences in the future,” he said.

In recognition of the national problem, Congress has declared February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month.

“The time to break the cycle of teen dating violence is now, before another generation falls victim to this tragedy,” President Obama said last year in a statement on the White House website.

At MyBrownBaby, we honor Jordan Coleman’s amazing courage, talent and leadership. He is truly a role model for all of us—young and old.

For details on Jordan’s tour or to book a screening in your community, please visit www.speakupandgetout.com or email Jordan at Jordan@payintheprice.com.

 

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

6 Comments

  1. This kid is my hero.

    Seriously though, all jokes aside, I’m thoroughly impressed. And I think it’s so important to speak on this issue and speak often. Teen domestic violence spills over into young adulthood and adulthood, and the results are always so detrimental. We need to do something.. now!

  2. Congrats on your success with Payin’ the Price!

    There are a lot of teens that need to know that it’s okay to speak out against teen dating violence. Your movie and your journey will inspire them to demand to be respected and motivate them to share their strength with their peers.

    May you continue to be a blessing….

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