As a young Black woman living in a low-income neighborhood in New York City with dreams of becoming a doctor, Chantel Mitchell had a lot of obstacles to overcome. The 1992 film Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., written and directed Leslie Harris, explores some of these challenges. Chantel is an outstanding student and outgoing woman who loves to speak her mind freely of the social injustices of African American people in her history class but her sharp tongue gets her into trouble in high school. She becomes romantically involved with a young man named Tyrone and the two teenagers become sexually active. Unfortunately, Chantel does not use her birth control properly and several weeks later she realizes she’s pregnant.
No birth control, aside from abstinence, is 100 percent effective and few prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (using a condom every time you have sex is a great way to protect yourself from most STIs). There are thousands of young women and men that find themselves in the same situation at Chantel and Tyrone. It is vital to advocate safe sex and educate women and men from low-income neighborhoods on contraceptives, as access to these resources are particularly restricted in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The movie relates to the situation some adolescence find themselves in, but the director shows that teen pregnancies aren’t necessarily doomed. If you know a young mother that is looking for help, there are a number of helpful programs that can support their journey.
by Jessica Vargas an International Affairs degree candidate at the New School Graduate Program of International Affairs