May 8, 2021

Notes From The Reel World, Spring 2021

Dear Documentary Community,

My hope as the past year came to a close—a year that saw a steady and seemingly unending stream of challenges—was that our real commitment to social justice, with “our” referring to the collective and not just the members of any particular disenfranchised group, would continue as a priority and not settle into something that we would merely reflect on as one of the many transformative things that happened in 2020, but whose priorities remained in 2020.

We each have a role to play—and part of my responsibility as a thought leader in this space is to make sure that I am providing the guidance that may help others remain engaged in the work to be done. We want very few left on the sidelines for lack of direction or motivation, or even a sense of purpose.

So I will start with very simple advice: For those who want to be a part of the long-term sustainable change that is required in order to bring healing to the oppressed, become a living example. And be this consistently, both when the world is focused on it as a collective and, more importantly, when no one else is watching. There are ways to be an effective ally— whatever that looks like—and it requires a constant assessment of self. It requires an acknowledgment that inequality is systemic and not coincidental, and a commitment on the part of oneself to constantly examine these issues and attempt to root it out in your own small but no less meaningful way. Most importantly, before you attempt to educate others on “how to be a good ally,” however well-intentioned, make sure you are living that example yourself. That is what will change the lives of those around you who need you in this moment.

This movement for social justice and this effort to build a just and equitable society both need committed accomplices. These accomplices must recognize how their voices can impact this conversation; this requires a humble recognition of each of our own circumstances and privilege. Even if you have never walked a day in my shoes—and you never quite will in the same way—there is an opportunity now to walk alongside me.

Consider that some people never get a “day off” from being who they are. There is never a real break from how society might perceive them, whether it is overt or subconscious. If you are able to remember that as you contemplate ways to continue expressing empathy through your daily actions, it will put us all on the path towards healing. And it will teach others how to live that example in a way that means more than supportive words. True alignment comes from living as an example.

In solidarity,

Brenda Robinson
IDA Board President

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