Secondly, the material is compiled here in one place, both chronologically and autobiographically, speaking from the Black experience. This set of stories is by no means comprehensive, but there’s enough to illustrate that this nation was birthed on racist concepts. The Kunstler sisters and Robinson show that the forces that spawned such hateful power have persisted and chased us across time and space… not because of some great external evil agent, but because it’s us, and always has been.
The United States stands at a crossroads, and it’s one we probably thought was far behind us. There was talk during the Obama years of a bright future of a post-racial America. We learned during the time leading up to the abomination of Trump and the deplorable vermin he encouraged to ooze up from the crawl-spaces of our national psyche that not only is the fight for racial equality not over… it’s barely even begun.
“…required viewing for everyone…”
The gut-punch reality is that there are a lot of white Americans who are white supremacists down to their bones and that if we are to forge national unity around an identity, we need to figure out how to deal with them, and the next generation of racists they are raising. Robinson makes the ultimate point in the film: “it will never get easier to have an honest discussion about race in America than it is right now… because if we wait, it is only going to get harder.”
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is a rare 10/10 and required viewing for everyone, even though there’s nothing particularly new in it. The film is based on publicly available knowledge, but these are not stories that see much daylight. For one example, no school system I’m aware of teaches American children about the Tulsa race massacre of 1921. Racism is not, and has never been, an aberration. As the film title suggests, it’s part of what built this country and is a part of our collective history. Only when we know, not fear, that to be true are we finally free to try to fix it.
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and the 2021 Hot Docs Film Festival.
"…the forces that spawned such hateful power have persisted and chased us across time and space..."