Correcting the conversation about race

Correcting the conversation about race

OUPblog: Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Carlos Hoyt

On 6 November 2015, the New York Times featured a poignant five-minute documentary called “A Conversation About Growing Up Black,” produced by Joe Brewster and Perri Peltz. Brewster and Peltz present Rakesh, Miles, Malek, Marvin, Shaquille, Bisa, Jumoke, Maddox, and Myles. The youngest are 10 and the eldest is 25 years old. These nine individuals are very different from one another (hair, height, weight, skin color, voice, manner of speech, body language… all those things that combine to make each of us unique). As with all human beings, each of them is his own universe of individuality and each occupies several universes of other individuals known as family, friends, teammates, school mates, colleagues, and the like.

But we never learn much about the individuality of these individuals: where they live; where they go to school or work; what their worldviews might be on faith, politics, or the environment; what are their talents, their challenges; what they love, and what they dislike. Instead we are introduced to them as racialized human beings, adversely racialized nominally black males to be specific, who by dint of this social relegation are subject to suspicion, discrimination, degradation, and brutality.

We encounter them as living, breathing targets of racism.

We are graced with their eloquent and compelling meditations on racism, their narratives of being misrepresented, misunderstood and mistreated, and their heroic resolve to successfully navigate the mine-infested landscape of the racist country in which they live – for themselves and for their loving, protective, and worried parents.

It is a heartbreaking five-minutes of film.

And it will change nothing…

Read the entire article here.

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