When Craig Bodeker, an American who is now 51, went to middle school, his teachers staged a coup against him and his classmates they were all exposed as racists. Craig swore he would mend his ways.
But after many years as an anti-racist, he realized that the word racism is one of the most abused words of our time, and decided to make the documentary A Conversation About Race. You can now watch the film right here on Dispatch TV.
What happened to Craig Bodeker in middle school was this: Two teachers announced that the children were going to play a game word association. They asked the kids to say what words came to mind when the teacher said white in a bright and clear voice. Pure, innocent, honest etcetera was what the kids replied. Then, they were asked what words came to mind when the teacher said black in a nasty, angry voice. The kids said scary, dark, awful etcetera. After this exercise, the teachers shocked their young students: You are all racists and we are disgusted by you!
After this indoctrination, Craig became an anti-racist, and vowed to mend his ways. It wasnt until he reached middle age that he dared question the official consensus on racism. Slowly but surely he had discovered that the entire ideology behind the word race had become illogical and very complex. He had a feeling that a small investigation into the matter would reveal many contradictions, and decided to capture some of these on film. The idea was that such a revelation would improve the debate and make people reflect on how they use poorly defined terms like racism and racist.
Bodeker began by advertising for interview subjects via the website Craigslist. The working title of his documentary was The project to stop racism now. Shooting started in January of 2008, and before long, Craig Bodeker realized that what he had caught on tape was nothing short of sensational.
His first question to everybody was: Do you experience racism in your everyday life?
The unanimous reply was a resounding: Yes!
Obviously, the racism people spoke of was white racism against blacks, that black people could be racist did not occur to anyone. And when Bodeker asked for examples of racism, he got some very peculiar replies. Instead of mentioning things like bullying, name-calling or bad service, the blacks said: People are overly kind to me, people give me funny looks, people say Im a great dancer just because Im black
The whites confessed racism by giving examples such as: Sometimes when I hear a black person yelling loudly on the bus, I find myself thinking that black people really are loud. And then I realize thats racist.
Blacks and whites alike agreed that blacks are better at basketball than whites and that this is due to race. But when Bodeker asked if they agreed that whites are better at holding down a job, the interviewees were evasive. This had nothing to do with race.
When asked if whites perform better than blacks on IQ tests, all agreed that this was because the tests are designed by white people, for white people. When Craig Bodeker remarked that Asians always get the highest scores, the interviewees became uncertain and didnt know how to respond.
All agreed that its a good thing that blacks have their champions, but recoiled at the idea of whites speaking well of their race.
One of the most interesting things in the movie is that it ends with a question about how the interviewees feel about illegal immigration by Mexicans and other Latinos to the United States. While the whites vaguely said something along the lines of this being OK, and that all who wish to come to the US should be allowed to do so, several of the blacks reply that this shouldnt be tolerated.
If I were President Id send the entire lot packing, says a young black man.