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Movie On Racism Moves Boca

Movie about racism moves Boca audidence

By Lona O'Connor, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 20, 2002

BOCA RATON -- Nine men spend a weekend together in a small room with a video camera. The subject is racism.

The camera pulls in microscopically close as they reveal their own hidden racism. That's the core of the documentary The Color of Fear, made by Berkeley, Calif., filmmaker and educator Lee Mun Wah.

More than 200 human resources professionals, educators and students sat through the intense 90-minute movie, shown at Muvico Palace in Boca Raton. Muvico executive John Spano invited Lee after seeing his film at a convention. The event was co-sponsored by the Human Resources Association of Broward County and the Human Resources Association of Palm Beach County.

The group shook their heads in disgust as David, one of two white men in the movie, referred to the others -- three Asian-Americans, two African-Americans and two Hispanic-Americans -- as "you people" and "you coloreds." One of the African-American men roared with rage when David told him that the oppression he felt was of his own making.

The men described their feelings of shame and isolation. But by the end of the movie, the camera caught them in bear hugs of reconciliation. They have remained friends during the seven years since Lee made the film.

Watching the emotional film, the audience gasped, wept or grunted in recognition. One woman walked out of the film, her sobs audible. Lee spoke with her privately. She later returned.

The audience sat in shocked silence as Lee, a Chinese-American, described how the film came to be. Seventeen years ago, his mother was shot to death in her home by an African-American burglar.

"I felt useless for years," said Lee, a former special education teacher. "But you won't see the scars unless you ask. You won't notice that I don't have a sense of trusting and innocence."

Lee decided to work for understanding between cultures. Before and after the film, he led the group in discussions.

George Gadson, associate director of business and corporate development at Florida Atlantic University, asked the audience to take with them "a renewed hope to be an agency for change against the insidious and destructive thing called racism."

Ilene Allgood, an FAU professor, asked students in her multicultural education course to attend the film.

"It's very hard to come to grips with this. Admitting that is a first step," said Allgood, a former official of the Anti-Defamation League. "The film puts the issues on the table. Talking is great, but groups have to keep working together. They have to stop (racism) once they see it."

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