Memorial Hall Library

The House We Live In: Film Screening & Discussion

Race The Power of an Illusion

A screening of The House We Live In, the third episode of the 2003 PBS series, Race - The Power of an Illusion. A facilitated discussion will follow, led by Rev. Lee Bluemel of North Parish Unitarian Universalist of North Andover, and by Dr. Damany Fisher, a history teacher at Phillips Academy in Andover. This event is sponsored by Memorial Hall Library in collaboration with a local group, Courageous Conversations, and the newly formed SURJ Merrimack Valley.

About the 2003 series Race - The Power of an Illusion from Larry Adelman, Executive Producer
Race is one topic where we all think we're experts. Yet ask 10 people to define race or name "the races," and you're likely to get 10 different answers. Few issues are characterized by more contradictory assumptions and myths, each voiced with absolute certainty. In producing this series, we felt it was important to go back to first principles and ask, What is this thing called "race?" - a question so basic it is rarely raised. What we discovered is that most of our common assumptions about race - for instance, that the world's people can be divided biologically along racial lines - are wrong. Yet the consequences of racism are very real. How do we make sense of these two seeming contradictions? Our hope is that this series can help us all navigate through our myths and misconceptions, and scrutinize some of the assumptions we take for granted. In that sense, the real subject of the film is not so much race but the viewer, or more precisely, the notions about race we all hold. We hope this series can help clear away the biological underbrush and leave starkly visible the underlying social, economic, and political conditions that disproportionately channel advantages and opportunities to white people. Perhaps then we can shift the conversation from discussing diversity and respecting cultural difference to building a more just and equitable society.

RACE -THE POWER OF AN ILLUSION was produced by California Newsreel, in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Major funding was provided by the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Diversity Fund. Additional funding was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Lida and Alejandro Zaffaroni, Akonadi Foundation, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and Nu Lambda Trust.