“REFLECTIONS ON RACE”
“Reflections on Race” is a collection of short films and eventually a feature length documentary about how we see race and how we talk about race through our own stories. Through interviews with people from all walks of life, “Reflections on Race” investigates how we view the Other—and ourselves.
The documentary will be as much a story about my own evolving understanding of race as it is about what race means today, both in the United States and beyond. In an era of increasing polarization and rancor, I am convinced that telling and listening to each other’s stories is a crucial pathway to dialogue and understanding on this divisive but unavoidable question of race. The short films will used by schools of all levels to encourage viewers to engage in their own dialogue about race and the Other.
WHY THE PHOTOGRAPHS?
My distinctive approach is to show people very early photographs, some more than 150 years old, and then to ask them what they think they are seeing without giving them any information. These images from a distant past have the power to jar people out of their defensiveness, to move them to speak in ways that they would not in everyday life. I ask them to say what they think they see, then to reflect, to tell their own stories as evoked by the images.
My working assumption is that imagination is the key to understanding. When we listen carefully, the stories we tell teach us about ourselves. Our ways of seeing the stories we tell may contribute to a broader conversation about how we can achieve unity through our diversity.
WHO AM I?
I am Derek Burrows — storyteller, musician, web designer, and filmmaker (http://derekburrows.com). My work as a performer and educator uses stories and music to teach people about the rewards of exploring cultural diversity and how to understand and relate to each other.
HOW WILL THE FUNDING BE USED?
Funding for “Reflections on Race” will go towards the making of the documentary as well as a series of short films. Using twelve 19th century photographs, I will interview a number of people of different cultures for each image as we explore together what race means to them. These interviews will be combined with stories, artistic reflections and non-verbal interpretations to create a series of three minute films centered around each specific image. Making these films and the documentary involves travel to interview people, transcribing interviews, editing, and producing each piece which will be put up on a website so that they can be available to educational institutions and the general public. The feature length documentary will use these interviews and discussions and my own personal exploration of race.
WHERE WILL “REFLECTIONS ON RACE” BE SHOWN?
The film “Reflections on Race” will be screened for a variety of audiences, both at film festivals and at schools and universities where I perform and conduct workshops to explore diversity.
“Reflections on Race” is also part of a larger, web-based project called Mirror of Race (mirrorofrace.org), a federally recognized nonprofit organization devoted to teaching, learning, and talking about race in our national community and beyond. Each of the filmed interviews in “Reflections on Race” will be connected with an image exhibited on the Mirror of Race website. Access will be entirely free and open to the viewing public. The interviews will be integrated with other educational materials, such as essays by scholars and other writers, other artworks that engage with the meaning of race in American history, and teaching guides that invite teachers to bring these images, interviews, essays and other works into the broader conversation of the classroom.
WHAT IF I GET MORE MONEY THAN REQUESTED?
The funding I’m asking for will help create these first 12 short films and the making of the documentary. If I get more money than requested, the funding will go towards conducting more interviews, the making of more short films to become a part of the main exhibition on the Mirror of Race website and the completion of the documentary film. The funding will also help with our curriculum development and with developing materials for the website project.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T GET ALL OF THE MONEY I REQUEST?
Then I get nothing through the Kickstarter project and I continue writing grant proposals to make this work.
YOUR DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE
As the parent organization for “Reflections on Race,” the Mirror of Race project is a federally recognized nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible for US taxpayers.
If you would like to learn more about “Reflections on Race” go to http://reflectionsonrace.org