Film challenges racial assumptions

Studies now show there is actually no genetic distinction between races. The documentary series “Race: The Power of an Illusion” explains that and more. It is being shown this month, sponsored by the Multicultural Organization of Students Active in Christ, and the communication and history departments.

John Brown University students can view the three-hour series as part of the school’s recognition of Black History Month. The documentary gives students an opportunity to understand race better.

“MOSAIC promotes understanding of all people and where they come from and what other cultures are like,” said sophomore Bridgette Ojo, an officer in the organization.

She said the history and communication departments came up with the idea to show the PBS documentary and gave the organization the opportunity to sponsor it. “It’s important for people to be aware of different culture and be informed,” Ojo explained. “[This documentary] is for everyone.”

The documentary studies race in society, history and science. The first part takes a closer look at the variations in humans’ genetic codes through races and confronts stereotypical myths about the different races.

According to the PBS website, the second part, “The Story We Tell,” shows “how deep social inequalities came to be rationalized as natural—deflecting attention from the social practices and public policies that benefited whites at the expense of others.”

Lastly, the final installment, “The House We Live In,” addresses the legacy of past discrimination and reveals how many American policies, past and present, intentionally or not, give “whites” more opportunities in life.

Black History Month, first thought of in 1926, became a result of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1970s. It became nationally recognized in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and gained media attention from schools and the media, said Assistant Professor of History Trisha Posey.

Some schools have units on African American history to celebrate February. Others place an emphasis on great African Americans who have contributed to American history.

At the university level, Posey said, this is a great opportunity to discuss the issue of race in American culture through forums, discussion groups or films. This is what MOSAIC attempts to do with this documentary.

The organization plans to show more films in the future. March is Women’s Month, Ojo said, and MOSAIC plans to show “The Help,” the 2011 drama about a group of diverse women exposing cruelty towards maids.

The organization presented the first part of the documentary last Wednesday and the second part yesterday evening. The third and final installment will occur next week.