Monday, July 14, 2008

ask their local libraries to buy movies

Today's post is a movie recommendation, and a clip from that movie: Shakti Butler's Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible. Normal superlatives for good movies apply -- inspiring, thought-provoking, powerful, moving, insightful, and many more.

You can order a copy here. It's a bit expensive, so if you can't afford it, why not ask a nearby librarian to order a copy instead? You'd be helping out a very worthy organization, World Trust Educational Services, and you'd also be planting a seed in your local library that could flourish into further awareness of white privilege and the ways of white folks.

(Below the clip is a brief review of the film by Carol Estes.)

Review of Mirrors of Privilege:

“I wake up every single morning of my life and think, ‘I am a black person,’” says a professor in the film Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible.
It’s different for me. I’m white, but not once did I ever wake up and think, “I am a white person.” In my mirror, I don’t see a white person, just a person, and I might even congratulate myself on that.
But it’s nothing to be proud of, according to this film. It means I’m colorblind in a particularly problematic way: I can’t see whiteness. I can avoid acknowledging the racial privileges that have supported my successes and sustain the comfortable myth that I earned my perch near the top of the social ladder.
Mirrors of Privilege, a simply made but surprisingly compelling film, introduces white people to the part of our whiteness we’ve learned not to see, through a series of conversations with white people who have thought deeply about race. A professor of women’s studies from New York recalls feeling baffled after reading two essays from African American women arguing that white women were oppressive to work for. “How can that be?” she wondered. “We’re so nice.” She decided to investigate. “If I have anything I didn’t earn,” she told herself, “show me.” She meditated over this challenge and within three months had identified 46 examples.
Throughout the film, some scenarios are powerfully illustrated in dance. One tableau shows three people, down on all fours, lined up shoulder to shoulder. Across their backs reclines a white woman, languorously reading a book, oblivious to the trembling arms of the black man who’s holding her up.
These are images and voices that have been largely missing from America’s discussion of race—articulate, principled, caring white people struggling to come to grips with their own fear, guilt, and ambivalence. They form, as anti-racism activist Van Jones puts it, “a cry from the heart of white people working to restore their own humanity.”

Carol Estes wrote this review as part of A Just Foreign Policy, the Summer 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Carol Estes is a YES! contributing editor, and for eight years has sponsored the Black Prisoners Caucus at a men’s prison in Monroe, Washington, where she co-founded the program University Behind


  1. Wow! That DVD is quite expensive.

    Well, I'm off to put in a request to my city's library system to order it.

  2. Yes, huh, hadn't thought of that. I knew of this film, but right, I could get my library to order it. Or rather, I will get my library to do that. Good suggestion, and if you know of other films of this sort, please do tell.

  3. I watched it on youtube, but I will be encouraging my library to carry it, but to be honest, I don't know how willing and eager they would be to carry this.

  4. We had Shakti Butler come to our college and speak in addition to showing us this film. I was definitely excited to have had the chance to go see it, and I highly recommend it for anyone.

  5. Thank you for this blog. It is really opening my eyes.


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