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We Love Detroit – a short video by Charlotte, age 7

A few months ago, my daughter Charlotte said:  “Dada, I want to make a video about Detroit for the Table Setters.”

My favorite part of this was that she started writing in her notebook about all the people she wanted to interview so there could be older and younger people, strangers, people who’ve lived in Detroit for a long time and people who are new, and she said, “I know, I know, I’ll definitely talk to people who look like us and people who don’t look like us.”

She decided to ask people what they like about our new city, because even at 7, she’s noticed that people tend to say many negative things about Detroit.  Marvin helped her think like a director and an editor, and of course, we helped her learn how to use the iMovie program.  She asked me to compose the music, and was very clear about how it should sound.  She chose the titles and imagery, and I helped her find some photos to enhance the stories people were sharing.

Obviously, I’m proud of her, but I also think it’s important to note that our kids, (not just my kids, but all kids) can handle thinking about narratives and community and diversity even in grade school.  In fact, most of the divisive mindsets people carry around with them originate at early ages.

Without further ado:

Marvin loves to do behind the scenes kind of extra footage, so we did this as a little promo.  Of course, we did it on a Friday right after school, she was hungry, and you can see the weekend jubilation setting in.  🙂

 

 

Thanks for watching, feel free to share, and any comments you leave will certainly be shared with the producer herself.

-Matthew

Repenting Of Racism for Lent, Holy Saturday – Matthew

Friends, this is our final post for #AntiRacismForLent 2018. Thank you for undertaking this journey with us, and all our posts and content will be accessible here: Repenting Of Racism For Lent.

Most importantly, this is only a beginning, but hopefully it has inspired a new perspective and posture on learning, confessing, repenting and taking daily steps to work towards dismantling systemic racism and classism. We confidently believe it is in line with Jesus’ teachings. We pray and hope this spurs all of us towards greater awareness and action.

Please listen to Luke, Maddie, and Matthew reflect on the last 40 days, and look back over posts that they created with Lauren Grubaugh, Lydia Lockhart, Daniel Russell, and Meggie Anderson-Sandoval.

Thank you again to Andre Henry for the courage and boldness to spur us into this project. It. Doesn’t. Have. To. Be. This. Way. Check out his work at https://www.youtube.com/user/AndreHenryMusic

If you’ve learned something from these past 40 posts, please share them far and wide with love, with hope, and with earnest expectation that we will understand God more when we learn to love one another ever more deeply and ever more truly.

May your Easter be filled with a sense of hope and possibility that Christ died and rose again for every single one of our lives, every single one of our beautifully diverse bodies and souls, and that we can celebrate the good, good work of getting to know the Kingdom here on Earth every single day.

We at The Table Setters would love to break bread with you in that celebration and this ongoing work, soon.  – Matthew

 

Challenge Detroit Interview of Matthew

Co-Founder Matthew is serving as a Challenge Detroit Fellow for 2017 and 2018 with 25 other entrepreneurs in the city.  This week, his work is being highlighted here, copied below.

Tell us about one of your favorite neighborhoods in Detroit and what makes it unique?

In 2016, we packed up our life and moved back to Detroit from Los Angeles. Darcie and I had been feeling increasingly called to move back, so we took a leap of faith with our two daughters. I had grown up in the suburbs, at 13 Mile and Southfield, and had always loved spending time in the city, mostly downtown and Southwest. Knowing that one of our deepest longings was to live in closer context with neighbors, and that our girls would be raised in a diverse community, both socio-economically and racially, friend after friend kept pointing us towards the 48214 zip code and the Mack Avenue Church community. For about 8 months, we rented an apartment in Pingree Park and worked jobs with Lyft, The New Teacher Project, and Citizen Detroit. And then in May of 2017, we were able to buy a home for our family of four, just a block away. We have been blown away by the kindness and intentionality of our neighbors, both from within and outside of the church. Sitting on our porch swing, walking to the park, clearing out overgrowth in alleys, and even having to get up early to shovel snow has provided a tapestry of invaluable moments connecting to families and people who’ve lived here for decades. MACC Development, the CDC of our church, has just opened The Commons, the first laundromat/coffeeshop/tutoring/ community gathering space at the corner of Van Dyke and Mack. It’s only been open for two weeks, but already I’ve caught conversations about the pros and cons of charter and public schools; a hearty Kendrick vs. Tupac debate; and a sustained celebration of the new Black Panther movie. All over the low buzz of laundry and espresso machines doin’ their thing.

Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on, what are you learning from the experience?

Currently, my team and I are working with the Detroit Land Bank Authority to help them streamline the process of selling vacant lots to community partners and non-profits. We have interviewed about a dozen representatives from churches and service agencies looking to buy adjacent land for community gardens, outdoor performance spaces, and other projects they hope will bless their neighborhoods. The process of buying any property can be daunting and intimidating, but the mission of the DLBA is to see lots purchased and re-activated by Detroiters as soon as possible. I’ve learned that there is some confusion between the function of the DLBA and that of the Wayne County Treasurer, the entity involved in foreclosing and auctioning homes, too often starting a process that evicts people from homes they’ve lived in most of their lives. It is also clear to me, that if not done with ample care for these long-term residents who have challenging financial situations, the Land Bank’s urgent mission to deplete their property holdings as soon as possible will tip the balance of ownership towards those with the most ability to pay quickly. Thus, the Land Bank must proceed thoughtfully and attentively if they are to ensure that Detroit remains a city that is truly for everyone, and not just people like myself who had the means to move back from Los Angeles and purchase a home.

Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.

At my host company Teen HYPE, I serve as the Manager of Mission Advancement. Teen HYPE’s mission is to Celebrate Youth, Confront Barriers, and Build Bridges, and they do this in a variety of ways. Each year, the organization produces a stage production that shines light on a particular aspect of being a teenager growing up in the Detroit of today, so the play is written in large part by the students themselves. This year, our topic is the negative impact of long prison sentence on the families of the incarcerated, particular the kids. With my experience having served at the Prison Creative Arts Project  at the University of Michigan, I was brought on board to help develop the curriculum and plan some events. We had learned that about 90% of the teens that make up the leadership of Teen HYPE are experiencing a parent or close family member either in prison or currently on parole. Where I grew up, just north of 8 Mile, this is definitely not the reality. So, we watched Ava DuVerney’s documentary The 13th, exposing the massive expansion of private, for-profit prisons in our country, and the troubling reality that slavery might be operating under a different disguise. We pondered the ideas of over-incarceration and over-policing of some communities. Ultimately, we asked: what are the emotional, social, and economic impacts on the kids who have to live in the reality of having a caretaker taken away? We invited students and people who are currently incarcerated to submit artwork for a gallery and community conversation, and this ultimately led to our stage production called Mis-Taken?, performed 5 times in early March of 2018 to roughly 4,000 student and community members. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

What kind of impact do you hope to have with your host company and within the city?

Teen HYPE is doing critical work. I hope that while I’m here I can do my part to get the story out to both Detroit as well as the suburbs. I know full well how suburban folks often misunderstand my neighbors in the city, how that trickles down to expecting the worst from our local teenagers. These misunderstandings lead to ill-informed assumptions and continued disconnect, and this nudges people into making both political and everyday choices that continue to damage communities outside of downtown. I am living a very different reality, seeing every day how resilient and brilliant our teenagers are, how they have hopes and dreams and ideas that could truly move Detroit towards becoming the kind of city that sets an example for the rest of the country. I will continue to build bridges towards new perspectives and possibilities.

What are you most looking forward to during springtime in Detroit?


This will be the first spring in our new home in Pingree Park, so I’m excited to start planting vegetables in our backyard garden, to finish fixing our porches, and to start having neighbors and friends over. I am also looking forward to cheaper gas bills, as it’s been a really long and cold winter!

How do you believe your fellowship will shape your career moving forward?


Challenge Detroit has provided me with a range of Detroit perspectives on business, politics, development and community activism. Just over half way through this fellowship, I am grateful for the stories and lessons I’m learning. I will continue to work on The Table Setters, the non-profit that Marvin Wadlow Jr. and I officially launched in 2016 to produce improved relationships across humanly created racial, socio-economic, political, and religious lines. We combine launch events in churches, schools, businesses, and civic institutions with customized plans for ongoing cultural accountability. We’ve seen that diversity training days are never enough, but that ongoing relationships that nurture connections and share brokenness, hopes and dreams, can be mutually healing and productive. Challenge Detroit has revealed to me, time and time again, how very true and critically urgent this is, what with the rancorous divisions in our city and country. I also sense that I will reconsider my call to ordained ministry, as this Fellowship has required me to take a significant break from my coursework at Fuller Seminary. I sense a growing call to community development, to continue learning how to really listen to people, story by story, and discern how to rebuild, or many times, build for the first time, trust between neighbors and neighborhoods in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.

#AntiRacismForLent, a 40 day daily practice

I invite our white friends to join us in #RepentingofRacism throughout the 40 days of Lent by engaging in the habits and prayers we will post each day, the first several below, the rest can be found on Repenting Of Racism For Lent, on Facebook.

The focus, #AntiRacismforLent, was inspired by our brother in ministry, Andre Henry, specifically asking white people to take on the mantle of educating other white people about the current state of racial injustice.

Here’s how it will work:

1) We invite you to pray with us.

Prayer helps us self-examine and repent. We repent by asking God to reveal ways that we have allowed destructive, unjust (racist), circumstances to continue. We admit we have done so. We ask God to help us remove the conscious and unconscious white supremacy within our hearts and communities. Then, we ask God to remake us so that we can live differently.

We encourage you to print the prayer we have attached to this post, and to make praying this prayer a daily habit throughout Lent.

2) We invite you to try on habits of justice.

These are actions intended to help us advocate for racial justice in tangible ways. This week’s theme is #Prayer. Examples of future themes are #Politics&Power and #Communication.

3) We invite you to include community.

Growth is best sustained when it is shared! On Fridays we will post an activity you can do with #Friends&Family, Saturdays will be for #DialogueDays, and Sundays will be for sharing how our weekly experience went, #CommunityConversation.

By the grace and help of God, may this season of Lent change us all.


Day 1: A Daily Prayer:

God our Creator, We affirm that You have made all people in Your image, Instilling us with dignity, Calling us good.

You created us in a beautiful array of colors, Each one, fearfully and wonderfully made.

God, in overt and subtle ways, we have been taught a lie: The lie of white supremacy. The lie that white lives matter more than other lives. This lie denies Your image In our non-white brothers and sisters. We confess of consciously and unconsciously falling prey to this lie.

Eternal God, we confess the sins of our ancestors. Ancestors who built systems to enrich and empower themselves on the backs of millions of people of color. They carried out genocide against indigenous peoples. They enslaved Africans. They used and abused immigrants. The list of injustices goes ever on.

God, we confess to actively and passively maintaining a system that sins. It denies healthcare to the needy, Incarcerates at a profit, Unjustly shoots precious lives. When any of Your children suffer, our souls suffer too.

We confess that we fear the cost of following You, O God: If we stand up for justice, Our reputation may suffer. If we stop ignoring cries of injustice, We will lose the illusion of innocence. Ending our sin of “no action” means we have to get to work. To “take up our cross” is painful.

And so, God of Justice, we come to You. Reveal to us the unacknowledged racism within our hearts. Surface our unconscious preferences. Give us the courage to withstand honest self-examination. Give us the strength to fight for those who suffer.Give us Your vision of the community You designed us to become.

God of Mercy and Hope, Convict our hearts, stir our spirits, transform our minds. May this transformation create a ripple that lasts beyond this Lenten season. May it extend beyond our personal lives and into our communities. Make us agents of Your liberating work in the world.

Amen.

—-

Day 2: Video Reflection

For today’s #HabitofJustice, we invite you to find a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths, and watch this video: Author Jen Hatmaker On Raising Black Kids In America: ‘This Is On Us … 

Having watched Jen’s story, we invite you to enter into prayer, noticing:

– What moment was most life-giving or hopeful for you? Speak to God about this moment of consolation. What might God be inviting you to notice about yourself or the world?

– What moment did you find most upsetting or concerning? Speak to God about this moment. What might God be inviting you to be, do or change?

Write these reflections down to carry with you into the rest of the 40 days.


Today’s #HabitofJustice is an opportunity to explore an experience of #WhiteGuilt* in a way that avoids burdening people of color.

You may want to journal as you go through this contemplative exercise, or simply find a quiet place to reflect.

Begin by taking a few deep, centering breaths.
Now, call to mind an experience you have had of hurting a person of color.
Picture this person sitting before you.
Gaze into their their face.
Imagine how they may be feeling.
Now, imagine apologizing to them. Imagine the exact words you would say.
Next, imagine telling them what you will do in this world to make amends.
Ask God’s forgiveness.
Finally, write down one specific change you can make in attitude or behavior to move toward more equitable relationships with people of color.

*This article explains what “white guilt” is and how it impacts us:  


Day 4 & 5, #CommunityConversation

The #HabitofJustice on this #DialogueDay is to engage in at least 15 minutes of discussion with another white person regarding what you’ve learned about yourself this week. What is one behavior or attitude which you are committed to change? Pay close attention to your own implicit biases, especially ones that frame people of color in negative ways, and how a system that favors white people over everyone else has made your life more comfortable.

#AntiRacismForLent is being facilitated by Lydia Lockhart, Matthew John Schmitt, Meggie Anderson-Sandoval, Lauren Grubaugh, Daniel Russell, Luke Arthur, and Maddie Joy, as sparked by an idea from Andre Henry. We invite you to join us in action and in conversation. Keep up with the daily habits of justice on the @RepentingofRacismForLent Facebook page

 

What Is Christianity? On #LeadingQuestions with Calvin Moore

Matthew was asked to join a dynamic group of panelists tonight on Leading Questions with Calvin Moore at Podcast Detroit.  Hear Rabbi Glenn Harris of Shema Yisrael, Bloomfield Hills; Cheri Wellman, former Pastor of 37 North in Southgate; Singer-Songwriter Steve Phelps; Travel Agent Gaye Bri Moore (who also happens to be Calvin’s Mom); Matthew and hosts Calvin and Kent weigh in on what it means to be a follower of Christ today.  From the personal to the political, from the aspects of finding a personal relationship with Jesus to the call for racial and social justice, this panel covers it all.  Parts 1 & 2 below:

@TheTableSetters on Grace and Two Fingers

Rudy and Celah of Grace And Two Fingers, a show where “a Mexican and Black guy from the hood in Los Angeles talk about what Jesus has done and is doing,” invited Matthew & Marvin on their podcast with the question “why do Black and White people fight so much?”  This blossomed into a rich and funny conversation about the intersections of faith, racism, “Whiteousness,” Jesus and the humor that can be found in the tensions when we keep coming back to the tables.

Take an hour and dig in, you won’t be sorry.

It’s Not About Guilt, It’s About Hope – by Matthew, #TheTableSetters #DismantlingWhiteousness

Charlottesville.  The United States of America.  2017.  What follows is a collection of some of my Facebook posting, along with some friends who inspire me, in the after swirl.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. – Galatians 3:28, The Message

“We are not born with prejudices, they are made for us by someone who wants something…to break us into small (and conquerable) groups.”

If a politician or a pastor doesn’t call out the hatred of #WhitePower, maybe we should ask, might it be serving them?

We know what fascism is. We know what racism is. We must resist and we must wake up.(The clip above is from an anti-fascism film made by the US Government in 1943 called “Don’t Be A Sucker.”)

—–
August 12, 2017  Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 5.27.33 PM

 

Dear European-American Christians: I take this moment to remind you that following Jesus and claiming Christianity are two very different things. Jesus called out the religious elite of his day for being in collusion with political and economic power as opposed to trusting the truth of God.

If your church does not make reference to the hatred on display last night and today, if someone tells you it is just the “fringe” of the Republican party, be very suspicious. #UniteTheRightRally is meant to divide and conquer.

If you’re happy that your church doesn’t bring it up, I implore you to read Isaiah. Read Jeremiah. Read any one of the four Gospels from start to finish. Take notes. Pay attention to how the leaders and kings lead and how they are confronted. Pay attention to who Jesus singles out as the protagonists in His lessons and the antagonists. Pay attention to the overall arc of justice that plays out.

I’m going to say it: 45 is a golden calf. Made by the white people, made for the white people, made as a substitute for God. We are witnessing a worship of a golden calf.

Reddit user Reagente created this map.

Awaken. There is hope in the Bible. It’s real to me and it’s being cheapened by politically powerful white America to a sickening degree. Jesus invited us all to the table. None of us are over or under welcomed, and none of us deserve it any more than another. #BlackLivesMatterwas a reflective response to the dominant #OnlyWhiteLivesMatter reality we’ve been subjected to since this country’s founding. As Andre Henry says: there is not room for argument here. You either accept that reality or you live in delusions.
Please, now, open your eyes and your ears and your hearts. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us all.

——
August 13, 2017

(I stepped back and listened this day.  Here’s the best of what I found.)

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 7.31.18 PM
The incredible poet, activist, minister, Diane Ujiiye

I called this the post of the century.  Seriously, hilarious and chillingly spot on.  

Follow Donna Givens, Executive Director of the Eastside Community Network in Detroit, Here.
Follow Pastor Mike McBride, Director of People Improving Communities through Organizing, Here
 ——–
August 14, 2017
Seriously, super stress-relieving.

The passive and excuse-laden comfortability with the ongoing legal, social, and nationally supported systems of White Supremacy, both the overt and riotous, as well as the more insidious and hidden daily aggressions from well meaning white people (like myself, I admit), makes me want to knock shit over today. Thank God I’ve still got Angry Birds on my phone.

How in the hell do we move past this with integrity, equity, and effective consequences? How do I, as a Jesus-follower, contain my anger and find love for my current enemies to “heap burning coals” upon their passivity and reveal that God meant what he said when he challenged us to love our neighbors, and that heaven will be hard to get into if we are spiritually diluted by our privileges here on earth? People: I believe this tension is what it’s all about. Do we trust God enough to actually love and fight for our neighbors?

——–
August 15, 2017

To be clear:

I am not against white people. I am against white dominance, and anything that seeks to support white dominance as “all-powerful” or “most preferable” is deeply problematic. I actually grieve for white people who are consumed by maintaining “whiteness.” I have seen this destroy more white people than I can bear to mention. It has caused me depression and anxiety. I believe it is because it was never God’s intent for any one group to believe themselves better than any other. This is not about guilt. It’s about hope.

Yes white people have had to work hard. I’ve never denied that. But why is it so challenging to accept what I’ve seen, from years of teaching in European, African, Asian, and Latino-American school contexts: the kids I’ve taught with browner skin have had to work much harder to achieve similar levels of success, than their lighter skinned peers. I am not making that up, it is real and it is a problem. Why is that so hard to accept and so tempting to dismiss as “emotionality,” or “playing the race card,” or whatever else has been said to discredit what those of us who’ve crossed boundaries know to be true?

I lament the fear of “the other.” I believe when Jesus challenged us to trust God and love all our neighbors, he meant that. In my life, I have found that learning from people in races and cultures and socio-economic classes other than the one I was born into has given me an ever-clearer picture of the kingdom of God. The diversity helps to paint a fuller rendering of how amazing God is. So I strive to learn more, and I trust the experiences of first hand stories more than news stories framed and reframed for profit and ratings.

I may be using social media more than is healthy at times, but social media, for me, is a way to generate dialogue that is hard to have on a daily basis. Of course, it’s easy to get stuck in a loop, so we all must encourage one another to take these important conversations into our face to face interactions. We don’t have a precedent for how to best use this medium, so we are all learning as we go.

I believe people do change, when confronted with the right stories in the right contexts. I’ve also seen great hope in my family and my friends. I mean, isn’t that what the entire walk with Jesus is meant to be? A place to continually move your life more and more in line with His? If we don’t believe people can change, then it’s a pretty shallow Gospel.

I make mistakes all the time. Some kind old friends recently pointed that out to me. I’ve been guilty of trying to save all the poor black kids and I’ve gotten my ass handed to me over a warm cup of Gumbo. I’ve engaged in fights that should’ve ended in more prayer and walking away. I’ve been called the “white devil” as well as “racist against white people.” But let me assure you, these are not the worst things that can happen. These are survivable.

What is not okay to me: turning a blind eye to actual suffering, especially when doing so out of convenience or uncomfortability. True, we can’t fight every battle and it would be arrogant to think otherwise. But I’ve been deeply troubled by the lack of concern for the ongoing systems that support one group’s pursuit of life and liberty over another’s, especially from within the Church when there are ample passages decrying economic structures of oppression. I feel we must stand strong. Whiteness is the problem with race, whiteness invented the current structure of racial hierarchy in this country, and it works hard to support itself. It wants to rule economically, morally, and culturally. It is the distraction that I feel called to stand against. It is not the only problem we Christians are expected to combat, but it’s the one I feel God asking me to focus on, through how I was made and how life has shaped me along the way.  (Original post, with comments, here.)

With love, hope, and peace by peace,
Matthew

Come along side our work at The Table Setters.  We’ll pass the gumbo.

The Truth About the Movie DETROIT! – by Marvin #theTableSetters #Detroit

The Truth is:

Everything from our physical being to our intellectual prowess of street culture, medical innovations that were tested on our persons without our permission, to breeding us for selling. All this for the financial gain of others, mainly Anglos. Moreover, from the “Ghetto-izing” (Ghetto-*) of our culture, to overtly gobbling up everything we had the boldness to wear in the ghetto. From our style of hair, dress, music, dance, and other abilities that were stolen in some form and sold. So now we come down to history, our history as African-Americans. It is American History. So who gets to tell it? We live in such divided communities (redlining*) that it is a sensitive subject when it comes to, yet again, exploiting our stories for financial gain. The gap between the everyday experience of black and white people in this country is as broad as a suburb of Detroit with all white people and a great educational environment due to property tax dollars in wealthy areas and the struggles of a large amount of minority youth who are not in school in Detroit (and other urban cities) with high levels of crime in most areas due to lack of education and unemployment. Cities like Chicago (less in Detroit) is so out of sorts that having less than eight murdered on a weekend is considered a low number. Also, Detroit, even though it is starting to address there situations and have honest conversations with representatives from all areas included in the discussion still struggles with their narratives of what really happened. But honesty is not always represented well, or the full story told in narratives that involve telling “our stories”. And frankly, it pisses me off.

The truth is:

The film Detroit, as timely as it is, is a narrative that misrepresents black folks based on who was allowed to tell the story of one of many American Tragedies when it comes to the African-American community. Is it timely, yes? Well done, I am sure it is. Accurate, in some instances, yes. Creative license taken? Of course. However, I believe, just like Selma (Ava Duvernay re-wrote 60% of script, no credit given) that from a perspective of an African-American filmmaker (like myself) the story would have been vastly seen through a different lens. However, that was not the case. Due to the extensive racism that exists in the Hollywood “studio system” of who gets to tell their cultural stories, or any story for that matter, this was not a productive film that forwarded any of those discussions. Nor did it forward the conversation of who has the power to approve who tells the story. The black narrative is not only under represented in film and television (and in all narrative areas), but it is also unrepresented with perspectives from filmmakers who are black, or for that matter of Latin or Asian backgrounds. So yes, it is a sore spot with me. I do not subscribe for anyone to see the film. Also, the market place is bearing that out. Let me be very clear, it’s not the full responsiblity of the actors. An actor relys on the director for performance. An actor accepts a role. And considering the horrible path of blacks in cinema, they stand unscathed in terms of my disappointment in the filmmakers.

Mojo Film Tracking

Domestic Total as of Aug. 13, 2017: $13,421,464 (Estimate)
Distributor: Annapurna Pictures, 
Release Date: July 28, 2017
Genre: Crime Drama, Runtime: 2 hrs. 23 min.
MPAA Rating: R Production Budget: $34 million
( film must double its production cost to begin making money)

The Truth is:

I believe it is unfortunate that people of color do not trust our narratives with Anglos. I believe in working together, but the scales are beyond unbalanced. It is going to take a long time to balance the scales, which I doubt will happen in my lifetime. Seems like every endeavor when it comes to people of color will “take a long time.” Why? Because, once again, and my Asian and Latino and Latina people of color will back me up on this, it has been the entire history of this country (and continues to be in so many ways) that this obstruction of the narrative has taken place since 1776. Who tells the stories, who writes the books, who teaches in schools, who is the majority, and who is the minority?  Even when the majority are the minority, when it comes to stories, it never works out for the minorities unless we are in charge of our own narrative. It actually saddens me to make that statement, but The truth is, it’s true.

The Truth is:

As someone who has a non-profit that preaches sitting at The Table, this subject tests me the most. However, we need to continue to try and talk and discuss at length who gets to tell our narratives as people of color, who gets to decide that, and better yet; how can we get people of color to step up and not be dismayed by the powers that be and still tell their own story?  I can tell you personally that the frustration in not being heard is overwhelming to the point of not wanting to even attempt to be heard. However, I am personally committed to telling my story, my way. I am determined to stand at the gates of financiers, independent film companies, foreign film entities, and domestic studios to pitch and tell my story and to have an opportunity to tell my story my way. I do expect and welcome collaborators with me of all ages, race, and genders to join me in telling those stories that I deem significant. Also, hopefully, someday, someone in power (that looks like me and doesn’t look like me) to see it that way. I am optimistic. So then Detroit throws me for a loop. I am sure it has thrown Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to win an Oscar for directing, for a loop as well.

The Truth is:

If you’re not a person of color, it is a hard and awkward position to understand, and most Anglos simply don’t! Mainly due to a lack of conversation about why we, as black folks (and others of color), would feel the way we do. Also, there is a fear of saying the wrong thing which also stops the conversation from happening. Fair? To some extent, it is not fair, but neither was the Transatlantic slave trade, auctioning of human beings, breeding and selling people (my ancestors), centuries of murdering our brown bodies, followed by Jim Crow, and many other forms of systemic racism (school to prison pipeline). Life is not fair, we all learn that. Black folks did not cause this, but we do have a responsibility to change this narrative. How?

 

The truth is:

We must metaphorically act as if we were at The March on Washington where Dr. King gave his speech. Or Bloody Sunday on Edmond Pettus Bridge (Selma) with all those people marching. In other words, we must flood the streets with story tellers in all forms. From filmmakers, authors, photographers, orators, and teachers, who stand at studio offices, TV executives, and publishers doors and demand to tell our stories ourselves with manuscripts, scripts, photographs, art works, speeches, and poems ready to go. So lest you think this is an exaggeration, it is not. The gap is wide as miles 1–14 in Detroit!

The Truth is:

Here are the numbers that prevent narratives from being told by people of color concerning the film and television business. I have not even discussed numbers for my Latin and Asian folks. Without even looking I can tell you they’re worse.

The Numbers:
Film Directors: 8–1 white, Writers: 3–1 white (that gap is closing, thank goodness), Film Studio Heads 94% White, 100% Male. (same, if not worse for film studios)

For more on this, View the Hollywood Diversity Report, 2015

The Truth is:

This brings me back to Detroit, the movie. It is uncomfortable in so many ways. How ironic that a town that somewhat balanced out the middle class by creating jobs (the auto industry) that evened the playing field without it being a sport where brown skinned people could be treated a little bit fair. Most families, even if they didn’t live in the same areas (and they didn’t because white people would not allow it) could at least have somewhat equal pay, a good job, and put their kids through their schools in their area of 8 miles or below. So why has this movie got me riled?

Detroit Poster, 1942

The Truth is:

Well, the fact is, we could see it coming 8 miles away.  The movie posters plastered all over every major “urban city” depicts cops standing off against brown folks, with the tag line, “It’s Time We Knew.”  It’s time we knew what? That “some police” (not all, as I have friends and family that are officers) have been brutal murderers and abusers to people of color? And who’s time is it to know? Certainly not people of color, we’ve been knowing! And I’ll dare you to actually put in a voice over in the trailer for this film that “we will reveal the truth!”  That misrepresents the blood spilled by my ancestors who made it a point to discuss every incident that seemed to mostly fall upon deaf ears. The Detroit tragedy, as awful as it is, sits in a line of many since the inception of this country which racism was truly The Birth of A Nation called The United States of America!

A small list of atrocities:
Slavery itself, Tulsa Town Burning, Rosewood Town Burning, Emmitt Till murder, hangings, draggings behind trucks, seven Nation of Islam people shot in Los Angeles, Black Panthers murdered in Philidelphia, Watts Riots, LA Riots, Rodney King….

Still photo from movie, Birth of a Nation

The truth is:

America does need to know the truth. I call all story tellers of color and people who want to help us tell our story with us in positions of leadership and power to affect the viewpoint of the story; it is time! Detroit proves it. Even in comedy, a film like Girl’s Night is a prime example of great collaboration. Yes, I saw the movie, it is a riot, and the box office reflects it. Go see it!

Girls Trip:

Domestic Total as of Aug. 13, 2017: $97,139,980/Foreign Total, $9 Million & Counting. Predicting 120–150 million domestic, 15–20 million foreign=Total 135 to 170 million. Production Budget: $19 million

A must See Interview, then watch the trailer:

*Ghetto Etymology-

The word “ghetto” comes from the Jewish area of Venice, the Venetian Ghetto in Cannaregio. However, there is no agreement among etymologists about the origins of the Venetian language term. The various theories trace it to: a special use of Venetian getto, or “foundry” (there was one near the site of that city’s ghetto in 1516);[3] Yiddish get, or “deed of separation”; a clipped form of Egitto (“Egypt”), from Latin Aegyptus (presumably in memory of the exile); or Italian borghetto, or “small section of a town” (diminutive of borgo, which is of Germanic origin; see borough). By 1899 the term had been extended to crowded urban quarters of other minority groups.

**Redlining-

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A HOLC 1936 security map of Philadelphia showing redlining of lower income neighborhoods.[1]

In the United States, redlining is the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic composition of those areas. While the best known examples of redlining have involved denial of financial services such as bankingor insurance,[2] other services such as health care[3] or even supermarkets[4] have been denied to residents (or in the case of retail businesses like supermarkets, simply located impractically far away from said residents) to result in a redlining effect.[5] Reverse redlining occurs when a lender or insurer targets particular neighborhoods that are predominantly nonwhite, not to deny residents loans or insurance, but rather to charge them more than in a non-redlined neighborhood where there is more competition.[6][7]