Friday, July 3, 2009

make class-project videos on racism

One of the ways I try to check the pulse of today's racism is by cruising around on YouTube. I don't know yet just how YouTube fits into and represents "our culture" (whatever that is), but its search function does cough up all sorts of trends and phenomena that I didn't know existed.

One example that's existed for a long time now, and that's also made its way to YouTube, is the class-project video. I remember making one in high school, for a course called "Mass Media." Thrust together randomly with three people I didn't know, I proposed that we address "world hunger." We ended up patching together crude juxtapositions of starving-African-children photos with the footage we'd shot on a rainy afternoon -- extreme closeups of each other's mouths as we gorged ourselves at McDonald's.

Although the ostensible topic of that video was the same as its unimaginative title -- "World Hunger" -- our project probably had an unintentional subtext on "whiteness," given that we were all white, and that we all lived in the unstated-but-purposefully "white" suburbs. Since thinking about that video still makes me feel kind of nauseous, I'll leave it to you to imagine any racial, racist, or racish* subtext it may have had.

I wish I could show you that long-lost classic, "World Hunger," but alas, the videotaped copies we made for each other are probably long gone. Anyway, I have a much better one to send you off on your wonderful weekend with.

The following anti-racism class project was made by students at Oak Park High School, in Winnipeg, Canada, for Mr. Pearase's Digital Film class. I know all of that not from YouTube, but rather from another blog that posted this video, boingboing. That's where Mr. Pearase sent a link to the video, along with an introduction. The comment thread there is great, because some of the students who made the video jumped in, along with Mr. Pearase.

Do you remember making group-project videos in high school, or in college?

Can you recommend any other especially effective ones that are available online?

The best one I've seen so far is one I've posted before, Kiri Smith's award-winning "A Girl Like Me." It's about racism, the insidious power of "whiteness," and what it takes for some people to resist it. (I should also mention Phillip Wang's excellent and hilarious "Yellow Fever," which seems like it might've been a class project, but I'm not sure about that.)

*h/t to myblackfriendsays for the word "racish," a term I hereby deem most worthy of high circulation.


  1. Thanks for the shout out Macon-- 'precinate it (:

  2. Hello! Congratulations to you, because you have a beautiful blog. If you put a translator, will be much easier for everyone to understand and comment on texts.



  3. How incredibly heartbreaking to watch that beautiful little girl push forward the doll who "looks like her" that she's just identified as the "bad" doll. . . a very effective and moving video

  4. @Raphne,
    I know. And you can see how conflicted she is, too. Like "okay, that's the good one, but...wait a minute..." Oy.

    Thanks for posting these again. I didn't catch A girl like me the first time around.


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