NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – CBS2 is taking on the hard question: Where does the conversation about race go from here?
CBS2’s Maurice DuBois spoke with Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Marshall Curry.
As demonstrations and more voices rise calling for change, who’s listening?
“So as you look at what’s happening to our country, have you had a chance for introspection to really think about what’s taking place in America right now, on the streets and people’s homes and their hearts? What are your thoughts?” DuBois asked
“A lot of white people, and a lot of people who maybe have not paid attention to what’s been going on in other communities, are are starting to listen and starting to starting to, to understand,” Curry said.
Curry, who lives in Brooklyn, spent a lot of time thinking about race in America. He thinks we’re at a pivotal moment.
“Is it an awakening?” DuBois asked.
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“I think it is. You know, it’s hard to know when when we’re in the middle of it, how long it will last,” Curry said. “I’ve, you know, been talking to friends and family, you know, Republicans and Democrats, people who are cops and I think people really are hearing for the first time what, what a lot of people suffer through in a regular way and, you know, it’s not to say that now somebody is going to wave a magic wand and all these problems are going to go away. But I do think that just hearing is an important first step.”
“Are white people you speak with? Are they expressing surprise shock? Or did they know this all along?” DuBois asked.
“You know, everybody’s different. I think there are a lot of people who who have known all along that, you know, people in a lot of communities are are suffering at the hands of police and disproportionate ways. I think for a lot of white people, it is news,” he said. “I saw a Pew study that was being published recently. And it said that something like 75% of whites thought that police use approximately the right amount of force when doing their job, and 30%, 33% of African Americans felt the same way. So that is a massive disconnect. That’s a massive disparity in their experiences and even among cops.”
“Does the conversation go beyond policing into all the other aspects of society where people don’t feel like they’re being treated equally?” DuBois asked.
“I do think it does. You know, the policing is the thing that I think has caught people’s eye. But I think once you once you take the scales away from your eyes and you start to look at the world around you, you see that there are racial problems in lots of different facets and then much subtler ways than probably most people, you know, most people assume,” Curry said.
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Curry’s documentaries include the Oscar-nominated “A Night At The Garden,” about a 1939 Nazi rally held in Madison Square Garden, and “Street Fight,” about Cory Booker‘s campaign for Newark mayor. He noted that in Newark, this time, things have been different.
“So interesting to me to see how Newark has responded to these protests, because, you know, it’s sort of famous for 1967 having a racial uprising,” he said. “And yet this time, when we’ve seen that in lots of other places, but Newark has been relatively calm. Not to say that people haven’t been outraged, and that there haven’t been protests – there have. But they, by and large, been, you know, nonviolent and and have not been destroying property.
“in 1967, that city was run by white people, and the police were almost exclusively white. And so people in that city felt like their voices and their pain were not being heard at all. And now it’s a city that is is, you know, has a black mayor and has for for generations and has, you know, significant African American representation in the City Council, and on the police force. And it’s not to say that any of those institutions are are perfect. But I think that that the people of Newark by and large, feel like they do have a voice,” he added. “And I think that the city wisely made room for people’s outrage, and didn’t try to come in with with oppressive force to keep people from from expressing their pain. They took their pain seriously, and it took their outrage seriously.”
“So people wonder, what can I do? How can I effect change?” DuBois asked.
“I mean, I can tell you in our family, we are, you know, there’s there’s a level of educating oneself,” Curry said. “As much as we can both reach outside of our circles, to engage with people who have different experiences from our own, I feel like there’s a huge value in that. And frankly, I think there’s a value in white people talking to other white people about the things that they’re learning and the things that they’re hearing.
“It can be frustrating even to have with people who you love. But it’s the work that has to get done,” he added.
“Right. Are you hopeful right now?” DuBois asked.
“I do think for the first time in my whole life, there is an interest in having these conversations and, and an urgency to having these conversations that that I’ve never seen in my life,” Curry said.