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originally published in 2014.

One of the great powers of film is its ability to spark conversation that is both challenging and compassionate. This enables participants to leverage the kind of transformative learning that’s crucial for cultural diversity training. But how do you choose a film that’s right for your goals? Read on for our series of tips on how to select a film resource to support your equity efforts.

Tip #5: Provide a Frame for Both Head and Heart Analysis “What good would it do to stir up these old wounds?” Race is a powerful subject, and one that often brings with it a fair amount of emotional pain. It’s human nature to either avoid what’s painful, or to dwell on it without seeking opportunities for healing. Both approaches leave issues unchecked to fester. The conversation on race too often remains focused on individual pain or transgression, when the larger issue is systemic and structural inequity. And the alternative is often not to talk about race at all.

In order to move beyond the anecdotal, becoming stuck in a vicious cycle that thwarts conversation, films selected for a successful training should provide a frame that can hold multiple perspectives on learning. Using a film that speaks to the broader system which churns out structural barriers can deepen the participants' understanding of this larger issue, and prepare them to approach racial equity in both personal and transpersonal ways.

Narrative films can engender deep empathy for a person or group oppressed by inequity; this is a start. But it does not necessarily offer the framework or the language to transcend the individual. To do this, we have to engage both the head and the heart. Films designed for learning and dialogue about systemic inequity can offer insights that help move participants beyond the emotional impact of story into accountability and action.

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