A Message From The President

October 2022

A few Saturdays ago, I had plans to do some yard work, attend a Pilates class, and complete a  few long overdue errands. But when I woke up that morning, it was pouring rain. Checking  the weather app, it looked like the rain wasn’t going to let up anytime soon. So, I decided I had  a good excuse to stay home, do nothing, and binge watch the latest or most popular  shows/movies on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount+, etc.

I put on the exercise clothes I would have worn to Pilates (at least I would look the part of being  active), plopped down on the couch with all the remotes at the ready and started my ‘let’s find-something-to-watch’ ritual. Within minutes on Netflix, I came across the documentary  film Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. The title and synopsis piqued my curiosity.  I started watching and after a few minutes, I put down the remote because I was fully  committed. As the end credits rolled, I was seriously reflecting on the film’s content and formulating how to engage going forward.

If you haven’t watched Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, please do. It is definitely  worth the 2-hour investment. Jeffery Robinson, a criminal defense/civil rights lawyer, is the  producer/writer of the film. He shares compelling historic documents and factual information  to make his points. He discusses anti-Black racism in the United States by presenting “tipping  points” – times when the country gained momentum for racial justice, only to roll back again  – from slavery to present day.

He began the project when his wife’s younger sister died in 2011 and her son, Matthew, moved  to Seattle to live with them. “…The experience of having a young Black person in our home  brought all issues of race that I dealt with as a criminal defense lawyer to a very personal level,’’  Robinson explains. “Matt was a young Black person stepping out into the streets of the United  States, and I was afraid of what that would mean for him. My fear led me to dig deeper into  anti-Black racism in this country, and I began learning aspects of our history that I had never  heard before.”

As I watched the documentary, I too learned aspects of our history that I had never heard before. It motivated me to learn more about The Who We Are Project, which “envisions a society that understands the true history of racism in America.” The Who We Are Project goals are to:

• Expose the role of anti-Black racism and the myth of white supremacy throughout  history up to the present;

• Activate Americans to learn and share this history; and,

• Inspire the next generation of citizen-historians, truth seekers, and activists.

Since watching the film, I have held a small viewing and discussion social, listened to The Who We Are Project podcast episodes, spread the word about the film as well as the Project, and  completed several Harvard Implicit Association Tests to know and understand my own personal biases or unconscious associations.

Of course, my actions haven’t changed systemic racial inequity, inequality, and injustices in the  U.S., but they have changed me and allowed me to reshape some dialogues and establish a new common understanding with many individuals. Change has to start somewhere; the film and the Project, which seek to expose, activate, and inspire, have done that for me.

So, the next time it’s raining outside or you have another good excuse to binge on some shows,  watch Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, listen to the podcast episodes, and  complete one or more Implicit Association Test. We are all part of building the solution.