By Jordan Ellett
What does the Social Justice Film Series do?
The Social Justice Film Series is an event hosted by the Social Justice Living Learning Community (LLC) that puts on films that address social justice issues. They aim for the movies to serve as a platform for students to begin discussing challenging topics. The goal is for movies to start a conversation and have you work to develop your own definitions of social justice; including various topics such as immigration, racism, toxic masculinity and socioeconomic disparities. Dr. Wright runs the series and works tirelessly to address and discuss diversity on campus. Wright challenges students to reflect and acknowledge how race, class, gender, and sexual orientation have been constructed throughout different points in history. She created the film series in order to supplement the curriculum in two courses that focused on contemporary U.S. social problems, particularly those related to identity, and their controversial solutions. She believes that not all learning should happen in the classroom, and she wants students to not only connect to the content of the film, but also to their peers as they watch the film together and discuss it afterward. Each semester, the series screens between five and seven films. The films chosen align with the content being discussed in respective classes. The screenings are typically led by faculty teaching the courses and after the film is over, the faculty leads a discussion with the students attending in order to reflect on what they watched. Within the next semester, the series will have the opportunity to have a filmmaker come and screen the film and lead the discussion with the students afterward.
What do you get out of joining the Social Justice Film Series?
You get the opportunity to watch and discuss thought-provoking flicks, such as:
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
- A film about the history of the women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.
- The movie discusses:
- The founding of NOW
- The emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation
- W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell)
- Kate Millett – American feminist writer, educator, artist, and activist
- The film doesn’t try to disregard the controversies over race, sexual preference, and leadership that arose during the women’s movement.
- The film shows present-day activists creating their generation’s own version of feminism and resonates with women today who are still struggling with reproductive rights and sexual violence.
- She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry website
- Displays the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old who was shot and killed by a BART police officer in Oakland
- Raises issues of law and order, violence, and race
- Displays actual cellphone footage moments before the shooting
- “The Radicalism of Fruitvale Station lies precisely here, in its refusal to turn a man into a symbol. Nearly every black man, whether or not he is president, tends to be flattened out by popular culture and the psychopathology of everyday American life, rendered as an innocent victim, a noble warrior or a menace to society. There is a dehumanizing violence in this habit, a wiled, toxic blindness that Fruitvale Station at once exposes and resists.” (source)
I Am Not Your Negro
- Explores the history of racism in the United States based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript
- Reminisces civil rights leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., and Baldwin’s personal observations of American history
Additional films that have been shown through the series include Inequality for All, After Stonewall, Precious Knowledge, 13th, Tough Guise Two, Twelve Years A Slave, Iron Jawed Angels, Dallas Buyers Club, and Selma.
How does the Social Justice Film Series contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
Starting a discussion over heavy topics such issues in race, religion, sexual orientation, sexism, poverty, and many others can be daunting. Movies create the perfect starting point for discussion. Movies can portray these topics in ways that words could not have gotten across in the same way. St. Edward’s campus prides itself on being a platform for change, and the Social Justice Film Series is a quintessential example of that platform. The Social Justice Film Series provides an outlet for students to explore the very charged and often controversial material that is connected with course content in a different, open environment with other students.
How can students get involved?