News from Janie Hermann at the Princeton Public Library: The library recently purchased a subscription to a Films on Demand – a wonderful new database that provides access to high quality videos from Films for the Humanities and Sciences, Cambridge Educational, and Meridian Education. These films are streamed directly to the desktop and can also be shown on larger screens. Access is provided via your PPL library card.

Here is how you access it from the library’s web site.

It has been suggested that NIOT’s Continuing Conversation discussions could focus on videos that relate to race, the history of discrimination and civil rights in America, etc. Group members would watch the assigned documentary for the month at home via the Films on Demand and then gather to discuss the documentary (and perhaps view a few clips). Much like a book discussion group, but with media instead.

Here are just a few of the many videos available (some produced by PBS, Films for the Humanities, etc):

A Class Apart In the 1954 legal case Hernandez v. Texas, defense lawyers forged a daring strategy—one arguing that Mexican-Americans did not fit into a legal structure which recognized only white and black racial categories. This American Experience episode interweaves the story of that landmark case, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, with the broader narrative of the civil rights movement. Viewers will learn about the heroic post-World War II struggle of Mexican-Americans fighting to dismantle Jim Crow-style discrimination targeted against them. Distributed by PBS Distribution. (60 minutes)

Anatomy of Prejudice: Jane Elliott’s Seminar on Race: She may be an overzealous crusader. She may be on a power trip. Then again, maybe Jane Elliott has pioneered a truly honest and viable way to talk about racial prejudice—a way in which white people and people of color can explore the subject together. This program documents one of Elliott’s diversity training seminars, modeled on an experiment she first conducted as a third-grade teacher in 1968. In the film, British citizens of varied racial and cultural backgrounds are separated into brown-eyed “superiors” and blue-eyed “inferiors.” Before the day is over, a handful will have stormed out and the remaining group will face painful truths and equally painful opinions about race in the 21st century. (48 minutes)

African-American Lives 2: The Road Home: From travesties of justice to the pursuit of the most intimate truths, this program focuses on participants’ ancestors in the early 20th century. Stories include the account of Tom Joyner’s great-uncles who, in 1915, were convicted by an all-white jury and executed for a crime that new evidence suggests they did not commit. Meanwhile, Bliss Broyard learns more about her father, renowned New York Times critic Anatole Broyard—a light-skinned black man who chose to pass as white. Ms. Broyard learned of her African-American roots upon her father’s death in 1990. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series African-American Lives 2. (54 minutes)

America Beyond the Color Line: Black Hollywood: Does the increasing success of African-Americans as film actors, directors, and producers signal a genuine shift in the role of race and the influence of people of color in the movie business? In this program, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. journeys to the West Coast and asks whether Hollywood remains institutionally racist or whether it is becoming increasingly color-blind in pursuit of the box office dollar. Interviewees include Chris Tucker, Samuel L. Jackson, Alicia Keys, Quincy Jones, Nia Long, Don Cheadle, and John Singleton. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series America Beyond the Color Line, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (56 minutes)

Suggested as a starter film:

Little Things: When Prejudice Is Unintentional. A great classroom conversation starter, this ABC News program explores the kinds of incidents and behavior that prompted The New York Times reporter Lena Williams to write an article entitled, “The Everyday Interactions that Get under the Skin of Blacks and Whites.” Focus groups polled and interviewed on the subject reveal how statements, gestures, and even body language can be interpreted—rightly or wrongly—as racial prejudice. (10 minutes).

What would you choose? If you are interested in attending “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege
on first Mondays at the Princeton Public Library, would you want to discuss documentaries, as in this post? Or books, suggested in the post below. Or have you another idea? Put your opinion in the comments section below. It’s easy. Just choose the “Anonymous” option. Then you may include your name — or not — as you wish!