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Expectations of the System
  • Clarence L Terry, Sr., Occidental College

Expectations of the System is a student-created film which details the findings of a participatory action research (PAR) project conducted in South Los Angeles. In the summer of 2008, a critical research team composed of seven high school-aged Black males and a mathematics education researcher (also a Black male) conducted qualitative and quantitative research to explore the incarceration and university attendance rates of 18-34 year old African American males in California state. In the first part of the film, the researchers interview African American men from their community in an attempt to understand underrepresented perspectives on issues pertaining to the prison and schooling systems. The film highlights important themes that emerged from those interviews. In the second part of the film, the researchers turn to findings from trend analysis conducted on state university and state prison data in California between 2000 and 2007. The critical research team found, for example, that contrary to popular assumption, 18-24 year old Black males attended state universities at greater rates than they were incarcerated in state prisons in 2000. The team uses 'surprising' data like these as a basis for shaping "mathematical counterstories" (CRT narratives) that can be understood to both critically challenge and affirm presuppositions about the relative position of the Black male in California state prisons and universities, as well as about these state institutions as systems.

Publication Date
October 1, 2009
Citation Information
Terry, C.L. (Producer). (2009). Expectations of the System [DVD]. Available from