Director Catherine Wigginton Green hosted a Q & A session on Feb. 24 with dozens of students, faculty, and community members in the Student Life Center after the airing of her revolutionary documentary “I’m Not A Racist…Am I?”
The film revolves around 12 New York high school students of different ethnicities, who agreed to come together over the course of one school year to discuss race, privilege, and the reasoning behind them both.
They challenge their friends, families, and themselves to confront a major societal issue, systematic racism. However, the film was not just created to stir emotions, but also to start a conversation.
“I think that part of it is showing up to watch a film like this and have conversations,” Green said. “It’s a start for a lot of people.
“When I go around the country and show the film, a lot of people realize that they haven’t thought about racism on a systemic level. We just think about this individual way that we react with one another,” she added. “We can’t solve racism by just being nice to each other, but it’s a great place to start.”
Following the film, audience members express a wide range of reactions, from sadness and shame to hopefulness for the future. What started as documentary to some, soon became a platform for them to share their own experiences with racism.
“I felt like I could relate,” said Brookdale student Anthony Holiday. “And I felt uncomfortable, because in some instances people feel like they have to go through what it is that we go through. I don’t feel like it should have to be like that. If you can understand at a certain level what it may be like or relate to it in some certain way, then that’s ok.”
Student Nekesha Adams, who recently emigrated to America from the Caribbean, said racism remains a problem in cultures around the world.
“No matter if you are black or white, if your skin is lighter or your skin is too dark, that visible difference is always going to be a problem,” said Adams. “People can get comfortable, they can get used to it, but it’s up to us. We can adapt to anything eventually if we put our minds to it.”
Brookdale English instructor Corinne Cavallo agreed, stressing the importance of community events like the Q&A that allow a wide range of people to share their opinions and work together towards solutions.
“These conversations don’t happen that often,” said Cavallo. “So many people think that racism doesn’t exist, and that’s why racism is still a problem. These conversations have to happen, so people will open up and show that it’s ok to talk about issues like these.”
The talk was the first in a series of programs being held this spring as part of the Office of Student Life and Activities’ Spring Lecture Series.
On Tuesday, March 3 at 11:45 a.m., civil rights activist Annie Clark will host a lecture called “Title IX and Campus Activism; Know Your Rights.” Clark, co-founder of the national advocacy group End Rape on Campus, will discuss the prevalence of sexual assaults at American colleges and how citizens can fight to stop them.
On Tuesday, March 24 at 11:45 a.m., documentary filmmaker Cullen Hoback will discuss his new film “Terms and Conditions May Apply.” The film examines how individuals often “sign away” their privacy rights without knowing it, allowing companies and government organizations to access and share their personal information.
For more information call the Student Life and Activites office at 732-224-2788 or visit their webpage.
Check out more photos of the event here.
ARTICLE BY: Michael O’Hara and Matthew Gutch.