GirlsInnovate recently hosted a screening of the documentary, “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequality,” a film featuring moving stories about racial inequality that encourages community dialogue for positive change.We had an insightful group of community members, parents, teens, and youths attend. Over two hours of discussion following the film, we had a chance to reflect on the stories we heard from the people featured in the movie and also from each other as we heard about experiences in our own community. After years of being taught to suppress any verbal discussion about race, at the chance to open up, it turned out every single person had a lot to say.
The screening started out on a note which helped set the tone of the event: this documentary is about mass stories of racial bias that are systemic, meaning they are not isolated or unique events but resonate for people across time and space. Instead of following the story of one or two people as they navigate a biased world, the film shared experiences from different types of people from different economic and cultural backgrounds and a common sentiment from our community was ‘that particular story touched me’ or ‘that specific experience opened my eyes’. The different stories gave everyone in the room a chance to feel a connection to a specific one.
One of the scenes that I connected to was when the director pointed out that many times we unconsciously block ourselves from interacting with people different than us. In the Bay Area, diversity is widespread. My school alone can boast students from many different nationalities. But that doesn’t mean I am able to talk to all of them. Choosing to take different classes is the first barrier, socializing with people only like us is the second barrier, and the third is thinking that we are already talking to different types of people. During the event, we talked about these barriers in school and life in general. Taking a step back (those of us in highschool), we decided to try to talk to a new person every week. For me, I aspire to talk not only to the new person who sits next to me in math, but also the person who I see sitting by themselves in a different area of the school. I’m really glad I got the chance to see this film, especially in the presence of the community. I feel more understanding of how others think about this topic and am more open to crossing barriers.