The Power of Interracial Dialogue

Second Movie Nights features American Textures

The Ikeda Center hosted its second-ever Movie Nights event on Friday, September 27. Participants gathered to watch American Textures, a 2016 documentary produced by Crossing Borders Films. In it, six Black, White, and Latino young people travel together across the United States, in the process learning not only about the history of racial injustice and segregation in the cities they visit, but also how to engage truthfully with one another about matters of race, identity, and community. The producers of the film envisioned it as a creative response to intensifying “interracial tensions and violent events” in the United States. (View a photo gallery of the event here!)

The film clearly demonstrated the essence of a quote from Daisaku Ikeda that Center Events and Publications Coordinator Anri Tanabe cited to inspire the small group discussions that followed the viewing. “Conflict and tension do not themselves render dialogue impossible,” said Ikeda. “What builds the walls between us is our willingness to remain ignorant of others. That is why it is crucial to be the one to initiate dialogue. Everything starts from there.” As the film follows the young people through their journeys -– inner and outer -– we see how relationships can deepen and become more authentic when people of good will are able to face difficult truths and sit with discomfort, all the while seeking to affirm the dignity of the other.

During a concluding “Open Mic” session, several attendees shared quick impressions from the viewing. Among the various points being raised, each speaker mentioned being moved by the breakthroughs that happened in the film as the participants got beneath the surface tension inherent in race dialogue to make deeper connections as humans. There was also a shared desire among them to create more places for courageous, honest communicating around race, in other words, to “create bridges” of dialogue and mutual understanding.

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