Festival covers race
Jacob Waring – Reporter
Race and racism were explored in films and discussions at Southern’s first Racial Justice Film Festival last Saturday from 2 – 10 p.m.
The films screened were “White Right: Meeting the Enemy,” “Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America,” “13th,” and 2018 Oscar winner for best original screenplay, “Get Out.”
After each film Elizabeth “Libby” Rhoades, an associate professor of psychology led a discussion with the students in attendance regarding the film. There were also brief intermissions between films to let the audience stretch their legs, grab snacks and settle in for the next film. Rhoades explained the process of how the films shown were selected.
“At the beginning of the year our Social Justice/ Diversity Committee we came up with a bunch of films,” Rhoades said. “We actually polled students on which ones they thought would be most effective and suggestions on films we had not seen.”
According to Rhoades the order of the films was intentional. Each led into the other culminating with “Get Out” and the proceeding documentaries fleshing out the nuances within the film.
She said that “White Right,” was about understanding the psychology and pathology of white supremacists. “Accidental Courtesy,” Rhoades said is about former Ku Klux Klan members who now have a relationship or “true friendship with a person of color.” The third film, “13th,” was about the disproportionate incarceration and disenfranchisement of people of color.
“The last one [‘Get Out’] was a wonderful, I think, Hollywood fictionalized version of how it feels like to be a person of color, to not know who you can trust and how any given situation can turn out,” Rhoades said, “even when you maybe think you’re safe.”
Graduate psychology student Sebastian Hernandez, said the first documentary was an opportunity to learn a new perspective and said it was an eye opener.
“I’m a kind of person that likes learning about perspectives of different individuals,” Hernandez said, “and I’m just kind of taking it all in, understanding both sides and seeing like the problems we have in our society and the racism.”
Kelsey Lisk, a graduate student in the psychology program said the conversations after each film concluded were productive and enlightening.
“I think it was a phenomenal choice of movie [‘Accidental Courtesy’] because it gave us a lot to discuss,” Lisk said. “There was a lot of surprising things in the video that kind of sparked the conversation, which I really enjoyed. I felt very comfortable speaking, and I felt that everyone contributed in a very respectful way and had very interesting thoughts to share, so I thought it was a very good environment to be able to participate in.”
Mykelle Coleman, a graduate psychology student is the student co-chair of the Social Justice/Diversity committee. She said she helped at the event by helping graduate students signing in, putting the movie on the screen and troubleshooting any possible technical difficulties.
Coleman said she gained a lot from each of the films, and helped her learn more of history, and her own personal history.
“It [‘13th’] helped me understand why things are going on even to this day,” said Coleman. “It kind of made me angry at first, but also made me understand that a lot of people don’t have the knowledge about what’s going on.”
Photo Credit: Jacob Waring