February 7, March 22, and April 5, 2006
Each part of Race: The Power of an Illusion, a documentary by California Newsreel on race in science, society, and history, was shown on one of three days, to audiences of 45-70 UMD students, faculty, and staff.
Episode 1: The Difference Between Us showed that despite what we’ve always believed, the world’s peoples simply don’t come bundled into distinct biological groups. The program followed a dozen students, who sequenced and compared their own DNA to see who was more genetically similar and came up with surprising results. This film segment was followed by presentations and discussion facilitated by Colleen Belk, instructor in the Department of Biology; and Jennifer Jones, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology/Anthropology.
Episode 2: The Story We Tell traced the origins of the racial idea to the European conquest of the New World and to the American slave system - the first ever where all the slaves shared similar physical traits and a common ancestry. After the film, discussion was facilitated by Eleanor Hannah, Assistant Professor, Department of History, and Jason Ford, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy.
Episode 3: The House We Live In focused on the ways our institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others. Its subject was the “unmarked” race: white people. We saw how benefits quietly and often invisibly accrue to white people, not necessarily because of merit or hard work, but because of the racialized nature of our laws, courts, customs, and perhaps most pertinently, housing. Discussion after the film was led by Sheryl Grana, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology/Anthropology; Tom Powers, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science; and Joan Varney, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology/Anthropology.
The film series was cosponsored by the UMD Office of Equal Opportunity and the Diversity Commission.