“When I was 10, I knew about drugs, sex, I knew about every different kind of gun.” These words out of the mouth of Lloyd Newman (Brandon Hammond) spell out his life and his pain. Growing up in the ghetto for Lloyd and best friend LeAlan Jones (Roderick Pannell) has been a trying experience. When the two talkative teens get a chance to make an audio diary of their lives with the help of National Public Radio producer David Isay (Josh Charles), the full impact of their living conditions in the inner city is heard by a national radio audience. The program entitled “Ghetto Life 101” draws attention to the two Chicago teens. The two then experience the horror of the death of five year-old Eric Morse. Eric is the little boy who was thrown from the window of a 14-story building in the Chicago projects by two other youngsters, aged 10 and 11. LeAlan and Lloyd conduct their own investigation to discover the root causes that drove children to kill other children.
This drama based on the real-life story of Lloyd and LeAlan, mixes elements of documentary storytelling into a harrowing biography tale. Written and directed by Ernest Dickerson, “Our America” shuns Hollywood’s view of the inner city to tell a true tale of the streets and the cost of ignoring poverty.