On 4th November the Show Racism the Red Card team co-hosted a screening of Selma
On 4th November the Show Racism the Red Card team co-hosted a screening of Selma as part of the Into Film Festival. The morning was attended by approximately 75 students from Whickham School.
The aim of the day was to allow the film to lead into a discussion with the young people regarding issues around societal and structural racism, and the different strategies (such as non violent demonstration) that are used in order to affect social change.
The participants attending that day were made up of history students who had recently been studying Martin Luther King and the march from Selma, and who were about to learn about Black nationalism and Malcolm X in upcoming lessons, so the film was of particular relevance to them.
The event started with an introduction from Into Film describing the work they did with young people and the reasons behind the free film festival for schools. We then briefly introduced ourselves and explained a little about what Show Racism the Red Card does and why we think it is important, particularly in the context of the film they were about to watch.
The screening itself began with a short 5 minute film reel illustrating some of the valuable work Into Film are involved in. This led straight into the showing of Selma.
After the film had finished we talked a little more about Show Racism the Red Card and how they may get involved with us either via social media, by booking workshops for their school, or by entering the recently launched schools competition.
In order that the young people had a clear view about what we were talking about with regard to racism, we clarified with them all that they knew what the definition of racism was, what 4 parts of someone’s identity would make unfair treatment racist, and we also briefly spoke about world view and the nature of prejudice.
We moved on to ask the young people to spend 5 minutes talking to each other about the questions on the handouts that we had posed to them before the film. We emphasised that although it could sometimes be daunting to speak up, we really wanted to know what their thoughts and feelings on this were and so we’d like them to share as much as possible. We also requested that if they had any questions of their own then feel free to ask us.
The questions posed to them on the handout were:
What emotions did you feel as you watched the film?
How would you describe the film?
What did you find interesting about the film?
Did you learn anything from the film that you didn’t know or understand before you watched it?
Was there anything shown in the film that you think is relevant to people’s lives now?
What do you think of non-violent protest as a means of campaigning for social and political change?
Many of the young people were obviously very affected by what they had seen on screen and this led to some interesting discussion of the questions. There was plenty of dialogue from the young people wanting to share their views with us.
There were expressions of anger, sadness, disappointment, and in some cases disbelief, that these kind of things could happen so recently in our history. This gave us the opportunity to unpack some of the issues which we know are still prevalent for members of ethnic minorities in today’s society. The young people themselves mentioned the parallels between what they had seen on screen about events 50 years ago, and what we are seeing on today’s news with regards to young black people in the USA and UK being shot by police. We explored this subject and chatted about the BlackLivesMatter campaign.
The engagement and comments by the young people also allowed us to explore deeper and springboard from their thoughts on the political racism shown in the film, to look at institutional and structural racism in society today and how damaging that is.
The young people’s contributions also led to us talking about non-violent protest and civil disobedience. What these meant, and how could they be used as a tool, and if they thought that kind of action was effective.
There was also some discussion also took place about what we all would do now, if we were in that situation. Would we support from afar or would we get directly involved? Would we risk our lives in order to make society more fair?
The event was a very successful one, and the reaction we had from the young people and staff was extremely positive. As well as the interesting engagement during the workshop itself, several students came to talk to us as they were leaving to share additional views and questions they had about social justice and activism. These young people also expressed excitement about moving on to the subjects of black activism and rights within their upcoming history lessons.