By Ellen Spiro
Thursday, December 8, 2011
"Troop 1500," rebroadcasting tonight on PBS's Independent Lens, is about Girl Scouts who trek together to visit mothers behind bars. Director Ellen Spiro talks here about the reunion sequel she is making with the daughters, five years later.
Having heard wild stories of the kind of trouble Caitlin was getting herself into years ago, I feared she might wind up in prison herself. At the reunion, she publicly admitted that she had partied hard with a bad group of dealers and was even raped on the streets. "But the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I gave it all up."
Now, a single mother of two young children, Caitlin leans on her grandmother for babysitting help while she works full time as a manager at Sears.
There is earnestness to these young women and a wisdom beyond their years.
Jakira and Zybra barely knew their mother, Alberta, before the Girl Scout troop started visiting Hilltop each month. They lived with their grandmother, Louise, who struggled to maintain a household filled with Alberta's six children. After years of neglect and disappointment, the sisters expressed little support of their mother at the reunion gathering. With a powerful and articulate voice, 18-year-old Jakira said she'd lost all faith in her mother and does not care that Alberta will be released in February 2012.
"All I care about is finishing my last year at high school and applying to college," she told the group.
This isn't just a pipe dream; she went on to tell the group exactly what schools she is applying to and what her essays will cover. Jakira is in the top 10th percentile at LBJ High School in Austin, Texas, and a varsity basketball and track star. She blushed a little when teased about the new boyfriend who dropped her off at the reunion, Jalyne.
"He's a bad boy. I know it but don't care," she said.
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Ellen Spiro is a filmmaker and associate professor of radio, TV and film at the University of Texas in Austin.
ITVS's Women and Girls Lead is an innovative public media initiative designed to focus, educate and connect women, girls and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century. Originally broadcast in 2006, "Troop 1500" will be rebroadcast on Dec. 8 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on PBS's award winning series Independent Lens in support of Women and Girls Lead.
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