Saturday, January 22, 2011
I was reminded of this PBS piece (below) that was filmed about two years ago, and I needed to view it again in order to remind myself of just what were the important lessons from that experience that I may need to call upon again.
I think if there's anything to be learned from viewing it again, it would be that one really can't prepare for such an event. It means being whoever I wake up to "being" on Tuesday, and using whatever is in the air that day. Most of the work comes with the editing, maybe. I'm pleased with this footage -- and could never have guessed how it would turn out while we were filming. In fact, somewhere along the way I forgot that the cameras were present. The film crew was very unobtrusive. Maybe it will be so this time, too.
I believe that Dr. Shakti Butler, Founder and Executive Producer, is planning to create a segment that will be incorporated into her next documentary. Her field is psychology, with specific work aimed at achieving greater understanding between those of different races and cultures. She travels throughout the country conducting workshops for educational institutions and corporations.
She invited me to her home some weeks ago where I shared a lovely dinner with her family which included her cinematographer husband, Rick Butler. I left with 3 of her films in hand, all really fine. It was surprising to find among those pictured several people whom I've met in my wanderings over time; Aisha Bilal in a dance sequence; Erika Huggins of the Black Panther Party, we've never met, but her oral history sits in a binder on my desk. She is so articulate ... so sensitive ... so insightful, so wounded yet (surprisingly) so compassionate -- that I keep that binder within reach for those times when I need centering, focus, when, temporarily, the path forward has become clouded.
Also on camera is one of my favorite speakers, Tim Wise, whose understanding of the concept of white privilege is so dead on that -- despite the seriousness of the topic -- his wry delivery of skillfully scripted comic lines rivals the best of the stand-ups! I bought a copy of his speech on video and presented it to our police chief as a gift a while back. Richmond (as does many cities) has both a black and a white police officer's association within its structure. A holdover from less enlightened times? That's a conversation I'd love to have with him someday. What's with that, anyway? I would hazard a guess that it's at the insistence of black police officers. Were it the other way, it would not be allowed, right? Should this be the other way around it would be considered racist, surely. Just one of the contradictions that we've learned to live with without questioning.
Maybe we need that conversation before I arrange for those tango lessons.
So much to do ... so little time.