I recently wrote a blog about my transformation of consciousness regarding how I want to treat White men. In short I had determined that I was not going to allow conditioned responses to past negative experiences dictate how I treat White men I meet in my daily life. I am not going to allow those negative experiences to rob me of my humanity and the person I choose to be. I concluded by implying that I am still a work in progress. Fast forward to the day I met Brian, a white filmmaker who wanted to do a film about race. A good friend of mine who was African American suggested I hear him out. So I did.
Brian asked if he could interview me for the film. My transformation of consciousness was being tested. What is this guy up to? What’s his angle? Does he really get this issue or is he some liberal assuaging his conscience about race? The leeriness continued even as he interviewed me. I wondered “why did he ask this or that question.” How is he going to edit this thing? Will he understand the nuances of race enough to be thoughtful in his editing or will he simply go for provocative sound bites? Will he be humble enough to take advice from others or just proceed full speed ahead? After almost two hours the interview was over. We talked informally for a brief time. He seemed like a nice guy and acknowledged that making this film was about his journey of learning as well. But all that history of negative experiences with White men was kicking in, along with my own insecurities about being on film. I still had my doubts. (One reminder in whole thing for me is how personal insecurities can exacerbate racial suspicions and that it is important to be clear on how the two impact each other.) Anyway he assured me several times that his intent was to reach white liberals and that his goal was to stimulate friendship across race.
We lost contact for months and I sort of thought (maybe even hoped) this film idea might die. Then one day he called and told me that he was concluding a version of the film and that there was going to be a screening in NC. He invited me to attend and so I did with nerves in tow. As I watched him introduce the film I could feel the sincerity of his intent and as I watched the film that feeling was reinforced. I thought, “this guy is really trying to make a film that matters.” I also learned he financed the entire project himself and only wanted to recover his investment, not make money. He acknowledges he is still learning, but from my vantage point he took a chance to make a difference while he learned. The road has not been easy for him yet he has not bemoaned that it should be. He has pushed through many obstacles and setbacks and on September 27thand 28th this film will premiere in Wilmington, NC.
It is called Racial Taboo. Again the intent is for the film to stimulate meaningful conversation and friendship. I hope it does.
Brian and I have had several conversations over the last few months and our trust continues to grow as we get to know each other. Though I struggled along the way, I’m glad my fears and historic distrust did not stop me from taking a chance. I’m learning too.