Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America is a documentary, directed by Emily and Sarah Kunstler and written by Jeffery Robinson, that discusses the issue and history of racism. Racism has been the foundation of the U.S. for far too long. It ties in Jeffery Robinson speaking at an event on the topic as well as a mix of archival footage from history, interviews and Jeffery’s personal experiences to balance both the broader issue of racism with the micro effects in people’s lives

Journey Through History And Our Past

Through this, he takes a historical journey visiting various landmarks in our history. Who We Are feels like a class that would be and should be in school. It doesn’t shy away from the brutality of our history. It’s similar to teachers who try to help students understand a concept by including their personal, relatable experiences. This allows students to have that eureka moment of comprehension. If a person has studied the history of racism in this country, there will be little surprises here. Still, Jeffery Robinson’s personal experiences make it worth the watch. However, that does not automatically mean this is wasteful. Like teaching, there is always a new way to explain material to help people finally connect with it. 

Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America image of Jeffery Robinson standing in a field, hands in his pockets.
Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America image of Jeffery Robinson

There are moments of anger because of our history, as well as current frustration given particular interactions. Especially when Jeffery confronts a white man holding a confederate flag and trying to spin the current ignorant narrative that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. Jeffery deftly dismantles the man’s argument, yet knowing they are wrong, they still deny it. This is the kind of danger we face. When given overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they will continue pushing their harmful agenda. Because it’s not about being right, it’s about maintaining power. 

A Charismatic Lesson

Jeffery uses his knowledge of history, wit and humor to deliver an oral account of our past. As well as current predicaments and issues such as internalized racism, biases that are harder to acknowledge. The unconscious bias looms large over the majority of people and it takes acknowledgment and mental awareness to confront so that the process of undoing it can occur. It doesn’t preach or condescend to its viewers. The mix of personal accounts with historical stories is a wonderful educational tool. Viewers can discuss the history of racism in America while also beginning the process of dismantling their unconscious biases. 

Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America is powerful in its truth and should be a necessary viewing experience for all students to ensure future generations break free from the racist rot of the past. This begins with talking about it, taking tests to see what biases lurk inside us and doing the work; all of us. We can’t change what has happened but we can make sure our future looks different. Who We Are should be required for education to look past mere intelligence and search to merge humanity with education. It is powerful, angering and, sadly, essential. 

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