“Black, White and US” explores racism in the United States through the lives of four white Utah families who have adopted African-American children.
“This film does reflect about if you’re looking to adopt and so forth some things to think about, but even more so, it’s really about putting ourselves in that position of those parents and how we can view the world, so making racism personal,” director Loki Mulholland said in a Q&A following the premiere screening.
The documentary and Q&A addressed racism as being a combination of prejudice and power. Curtis Linton, founder of the Domino Foundation and father of one of the families spotlighted in the film, said the challenge most white people face is not seeing themselves as part of the prejudice piece of the equation, but persisting within the power piece.
“Power is about norms and about an assumption of innocence, about doors that get opened and all the rest,” Linton said. “I may go through life saying, ‘Yeah, I embrace everybody, I love everybody, I have friends from all over the world,’ but if I persist within that power structure without ever reflecting back on, ‘How is it that I benefit from the power structure every day?’ I may see myself as an ally, but the reality is I’m standing far to the side.”
Linton said there is much people in the Wasatch Front can learn about “how race functions and where we’re going and how we might navigate it.”
“I think as much as ever now, we have to have this conversation because the world is shifting in a very rapid way,” Linton said. “How is it that myself as a white male in the U.S. today (sees) that the world is evolving, and how can I stand in a way that I’m empowering this evolution and this change rather than potentially standing in front of that change because I have fear of losing my own influence?”
Mulholland, who has previously made other films about racism including “An Ordinary Hero” and “The Uncomfortable Truth,” said he was “kind of forced into” exploring racism through his work to honor and continue the legacy of his mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a famous civil rights activist.
The director said when people ask if he would sit in at the same lunch counter his mother did in protest, he answers, “I don’t have to because my mother already did.”
“But I have to do what I can do, which is to take the gifts that I’ve been given, I’ve been blessed with the ability to tell stories and so forth, and be able to share that,” Mulholland said. “We all have a place in this.”
Mulholland said those who truly believe in equality and the ideals of America and see something wrong should be the first to stand up and do something about it.
“If you truly believe that we are all God’s children, then you should be defending the rights of those children to the ends of the earth,” Mulholland said. “That’s what it really means.”