I am working on a new short film project. It all began last summer when I attended a conference where a panelist reflected that he did not know much about 'white culture.' What is white culture anyway?
It is true that we rarely talk about white culture, and that is because whiteness is the dominant structure of our society. The cultural choice to not talk about whiteness empowers white people. Why is that? Because we can't be responsible for something we don't name. But white culture consumes America; it is everywhere and everything around us, which is what makes it feel invisible. But in fact, it is very visible, if we are willing to identify it.
Once we start to identify white culture, it can be painful for white people. We have to face the fact that our culture is violent, and that we spend a lot of time identifying the "other"; which creates scapegoats for our problems. I believe this haunts us.
One tenet of whiteness is its centrality, so a project like this runs the risk of once again, centering whiteness. I ask viewers to consider that when we identify something it helps us transform it. This film is for white people to engage in that work.
This will be a deeply personal short based on my own life, narrated by me. It will include series of images and audio clips that will elicit emotion and spark discussion about whiteness and white culture in America.
Imagine a 7 min. film that you could show as part of a workshop, meeting or family gathering. I'm also considering whether we should create a museum-style installation for people to interact with in different spaces (traditional museums and non-traditional spaces such as churches, community centers, libraries, etc.).
Transformation is about love. This is a project made with profound love for all humans.
If your group is interested in learning more, send me a quick note on our contact us page.
If you want to dive in now, check out this reading list:
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Why Does Patriarchy Persist? By Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider
NYTimes Opinion Piece, by Darlene Cunha (read beyond the headline to see how it's relevant to this project)
Sending light and love to all in the new year.
Most of the past month has been a joyous journey filming the trailblazing Episcopal women priests who claimed their vocation despite earthly patriarchal institutions that sought to deny it. We published this very short clip as a sneak peak earlier this fall. You can sign up for our newsletter for more in-depth updates on the progress of the film.
I continue to work on a new personal project at the intersection of understanding whiteness and dismantling structural racism. More to come in early 2020!
Life happens, and so I've fallen behind in these blog posts. Here are a few quick lessons from the past few months.
1) Excitement continues to build following the America ReFramed broadcast of Councilwoman in September. The need for inspiring stories from voices who rarely get the limelight, goes far beyond television. Check out the latest here, including our first international screenings in South Korea, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic (the one closest to our hearts)! #RepresentationMatters #CouncilwomanFilm
2) In honor of the Rev. Dr. Alison Cheek, we published our first public clip from the work-in-progress project The Philadelphia Eleven. You can watch the clip here.
3) It's hard when your mother passes away. Sending light and love to all of you who have been through this and whose footsteps I now follow. The picture below is me and my mother this summer, about a month before she passed.
I am discovering delicious ways to turn fundraising into creative work. Our fundraising efforts have connected me to almost daily conversations with people who were part of the movement for the ordination of Episcopal women to the priesthood. Each connection is a gift, and has deepened my understanding of this history.
Here are some fun shots of Kickstarter reward preparation and delivery, including a shot of books waiting for Bishop Barbara Harris's signature, me showing you how I sometimes feel like pulling my hair out when packaging all of this in my office corner, and my favorite assistant, our rescue lab-mutt Shadow.
I always tell people that I am both a filmmaker and a mother. But I stumble when people ask why I insist on including my parenting status. For me, parenting and my career are equally part of my soul. I give all of myself to both of these things as part of living fully. My days are full, and each day brings difficult decisions to balance the demands of both jobs. But why is this so hard to explain? Perhaps because we have never valued parenting as equal with income-earning work.
My choice is a celebration of vocation. I spent many years facing infertility, and for the past decade I have been blessed to raise two children. I am also a daughter, sister and a spouse, but those roles are not a part of my work. Being a mother is a part of the work of each and every day. I find it immensely challenging and rewarding, just like filmmaking has huge challenges and rewards.
It is a radical balance to give career and parenting equal value. But it is who I am and what I do. The unfortunate reality is that my privilege makes this possible. The privilege of a partner with a secure income, a network that only comes with growing up in the same region where you work, and the privilege of education that gives me the tools to take on independent freelancing. There is always an underlying privilege of whiteness. I'm not going to give up this radical balance because others do not have the liberty to create their own radical balance; instead I will fight for a world where everyone can follow their vocations with a vengeance.
I feel like I'm in a daily battle against oversimplification. By its very nature film requires simplification because the storytelling is linear and it takes a very long time to say things on screen. On social media, most of us read headlines or one sentence, which encourages us to use language that simplifies.
But life isn't simple. In fact, the more we engage with all of its complexities, the closer we can get to the truth. To me that truth is the soul of the human condition. The best we can do is strive to understand and be as honest as possible, as there is no such thing as absolute truth. The closer we can get to that deep honest place, the better solutions we will come up with about how to solve humanity's most pressing problems. I make films as a tool for us to dig deeper, and challenge our pre-conceptions. It is ironic that we must simplify stories in order to get to the emotions and truths that help us understand a more complex world.
We are on the verge of launching a Kickstarter campaign, which will require plenty of one-liners to get people's attention and encourage them to support a film. As we engage in this process, I wonder if the challenge of being succinct can somehow help us get closer to the complexities that make this story all that it is.