Diversity Archives - Point Made Learning

Cutting SNAP Benefits Further Marginalizes the Poor

The Summary

Last week, President Trump proposed a major cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps”, in an attempt to jumpstart his plan for welfare reform. It’s the administration’s latest effort to further marginalize Americans on the fringes or economic privilege without an introspective look at the limited access to resources that keep them on those fringes.

The new program would require able-bodied SNAP beneficiaries to work despite other limitations including access to transportation, job insecurity and child care assistance. It would also institute a program, called “Harvest Box”, through which SNAP beneficiaries would receive a box of USDA-approved groceries to supplement the cut to food stamps, a program that already allots low-income folks access to groceries of their choice. The President’s proposal has been scrutinized by advocates for public assistance and welfare programs but especially by SNAP beneficiaries who interpret a cut to the program as damaging regardless of its positive intention. It has also inspired a discussion about a “war on food” in which poor folks are systematically denied access to fresh groceries and healthy food options.

What Is In the “Harvest Box”?

The USDA anticipates that the Harvest Box will include “shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, read-eat-cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish and canned fruits and vegetable.” As the SNAP program currently

Food Stamp Sign in Maine Grocery Store
Food Stamp Sign in Maine Grocery Store

exists, recipients have the autonomy to purchase their own, fresh groceries. This reform in welfare benefits is intended to mobilize poor people upward, requiring them to work in order to earn their benefits in some cases. This amendment is made, of course, under the assumption that welfare recipients don’t already work.

Food As a Weapon of Control

Nina Martyris reflects on Frederick Douglass’s analysis of “food as a weapon of control” in a recent article for NPR. Douglass’s writing explores the ways slave owners employed hunger to establish a hierarchy between slaves, often privileging house slaves with food consumed by the master’s family and guests while field slaves were afforded an insufficient cornmeal dish, comparable to dog food. Douglass even mentions that he and other slaves would compete with the slave master’s dog for the evening’s dinner scraps.

Perhaps the most poignant moment in Martyris’s article is a recounting of holiday festivities on the plantation where slaves were not only expected to participate in the revelling but often required to engage in drinking competitions as entertainment for the master’s guests. Douglass mentions that refusal to participate reflected a sentiment of ungratefulness and that ultimately, “we had almost as well be slaves to man as to rum.” Slaves had no autonomy, let alone the jurisdiction to decide when and what they wanted to eat, yet the expected response for one, balanced meal a year was gratitude.

The Big Picture

Food options in low-income communities reflect what the community can afford, which often means fast-food restaurants comprise the majority of eating establishments along with locally owned restaurants and grocery stores that offer limited, fresh produce. The Harvest Box initiative might also perpetuate what the Food Research and Action Center calls a “feast or famine situation”, a term that refers to parents who will skip meals to increase food options for their children. And, of course, it might contribute to the myriad health issues poor people face including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and a host of other diseases related to malnutrition.

There are many comparisons to draw here, though that is not to say the President’s proposal to cut SNAP benefits is comparable to chattel slavery. But there are comparisons to draw. Most important is the question of autonomy; do the oppressed have access to agency under a capitalist bureaucracy? This question is further complicated by this nation’s legacy, built on the free labor of slaves who, of course, had no agency in the matter of their work. In deciding how poor Americans are nourished, the Trump administration participates in a legacy of surveillance and population control that has changed its face over the course of the country’s foundation. SNAP benefits already limit food options for poor people but it still affords them the autonomy to choose. Under the President’s initiative, underprivileged communities will be further dependent on government resources for something as basic and necessary as food. And all of that despite the work they do to uphold the country’s economy. While data indicates that most able-bodied welfare recipients work, there is still an insidious assumption, from the Trump administration in this case, that they do not. As president of the National WIC Association, Donald Greenaway, put it, “removing choice from SNAP flies in the face of encouraging responsibility… the budget seems to assume that participating in SNAP is a character flaw.”

We must be vigilant about the way politicians will weaponize the oppression of women, the queer community, the poor and people of color in the future. In just one year we have witnessed an assault on all of the aforementioned communities; the exclusion of trans people from restrooms matching their gender, staunch support of a politician accused of pedophilia (on multiple accounts), and xenophobic legislation aimed toward expelling Middle Eastern and Latinx immigrants from the United States. This recent effort to punish Americans for their lack of access to food resources indicates a nearsighted understanding of wealth disparities in the United States and how they are inextricably connected to the same denial of those resources.

Here’s what we read and watched this past week to stay informed about issues of equity and identity. Resources this week look at corporate diversity programming, the NAACP travel advisory for American Airlines, students voices, and post- #MeToo actions. Plus, an incredible movie on Netflix you won’t want to miss.

From Barb Lee

This Simple Chart Will Get You To Rethink Your Diversity Program

Chart identifying the diversity and inclusion matrix
Corporate diversity and inclusion matrix.

I think this is a super smart chart with some extremely useful strategies for telling the truth about diversity in our workplaces.

Harassment Is Rampant at Startups, and Few Have Diversity Plans, Study Finds

According to a study published by First Round Capital, half of technology entrepreneurs reported that they have been harassed themselves in the workplace or they know someone who has been harassed. That’s not all that surprising. But what’s disappointing is that these companies don’t seem to be addressing this from an institutional level. Despite all the talk about tech companies getting better at diversity and inclusion, only 17 percent of startups have actually put any kind of formal strategy in place. We think our American Dream Experience – a life size board game that looks at issues of intersectional identity and inequity – would be a great start.

NAACP says American Airlines Has Made Progress, but Travel Advisory Remains

This article made me wonder about why some companies hire diversity consulting groups to begin with. Do they want to do what’s right or what is right for the bottom line?

Haywood High School Student Protest Sparked by Racially Charged Social Media Posts

These students stood up for themselves, peacefully. I admire their fortitude.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

The #MeToo Backlash Is Already Here. This Is How We Stop It.

As Melissa Harris-Perry points out in this article, “Feminism” is Merriam Webster’s word of the year. This is no doubt due to the Women’s March last January and the wave of high-profile sexual harassment and assault allegations we’ve been hearing on a near-daily basis since October. This is all good stuff, but where do we go from here? Harris-Perry writes that “individual retribution is not institutional justice.” And she then proposes an incredibly innovative path forward that can lead to meaningful change.

This is one of the best articles I’ve read since the Weinstein story broke last fall.

From Lenny Walker


Don’t miss this powerful Netflix Original film:

“Two Mississippi families — one black, one white — confront the brutal realities of prejudice, farming and friendship in a divided World War II era.”

Here’s what we read and listened to this week to stay informed about issues or equity and identity – everything from a new study showing how we should approach changing minds to the ways racism infects our health, our children’s literature, and even our comic books! Keep reading to learn about what we learned this week.

From Barb Lee

Racism Is Damaging Our Health

There are many research studies that have confirmed this, but here is the latest and the data is clear. This audio file has Harvard researcher David Williams laying down the national data (not sample data) about race in the U.S. Here’s one striking data point: In the top 171 major cities in the U.S., not a single one had the majority of whites living under the same residential quality as that of blacks. Furthermore, the worst conditions for whites were still better than the worst conditions for blacks. I had to stop the recording, rewind, and play again several times because this presentation was so chock full of important data points. The good news is, he’s suggesting solutions for change, too!  I felt inspired – instead of only bummed out – by this.

Dr. Seuss? No!

Racism Revealed in Dr. Seuss’ Work

Cover image of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Racism in our favorite Dr. Seuss books? No!

Uh oh. This is going to p*ss some people off!!  “What?!  Now, Dr. Seuss is a racist?!  Come on!”  This is an interesting article about a book that will tear at some of our most nostalgic memories and nobody likes anyone who does that. It’s hard to reframe and re-contextualize good memories with the racism that was clearly infused in everything around us.

I remember when I first went back as an adult to read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to my then young daughter. I was shocked by the casual colonial interactions of Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loopas. Noooo! Not Willy Wonka! I love that book. It was the first book I remember my mom reading to me and I have such rare and wonderful memories associated with the story of Mr. Wonka and all those kids and parents… and the Oompa Loompas, too. In fact, I still have that very book on one of my book shelves with other cherished children’s novels.

But I have to be honest about it. Then, I can extract all the good, recognize the bad and, most importantly, not perpetuate it with the next generation. I read the book to my daughter and introduced the concepts of colonialism and paternalism. She was young, but she understood what those concepts mean. We all do.

Majority of White Americans Feel Discriminated Against Because of Their Race and Some Say They Lose Out On Jobs Because of It

This research helps inspire me to continue teaching people about the difference between personal bigotry and institutional racism. And, I’m reminded of the saying, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

All Muslims are often blamed for single acts of terror. Psychology explains how to stop it.

We posted this on Facebook this week, but it’s worth posting here again because it’s so in line with the work we try and do in our workshops. We see over and over again how so many Americans and the media blame all Muslims for one individual’s act of terror. Moreover, we never do the same with all white people when one white man commits a mass shooting. So how do we try to interrupt this dangerous pattern? First of all, we can point out the hypocrisy when we see people doing this. This Vox piece details a new study showing how effective that tactic is for changing minds and hearts (in that order!) If you’re looking for the most effective ways to shift perspectives, do not miss this fascinating article.

From Deionna Wilburn

New Marvel Comics EIC C.B. Cebulski Admits He Wrote As “Akira Yoshida” 13 Years Ago

The new Editor-in-Chief for Marvel Comics wrote on his twitter feed yesterday, “Breaking into, and staying in, comics, in any capacity, is just as much about attitude as it is about ability.”  By attitude and ability, I’m assuming Cebulski means being a white man, but pretending to be a Japanese comic book writer by the name of Akira Yoshida. What’s most infuriating, Cebulski defrauded Marvel and his audience from 2005 to 2006 – even creating an elaborate backstory for the fictional Japanese man during a time when Marvel claimed to be actively looking for diversity in their writers. In the article, Cebulski is unapologetic and seems almost completely unbothered. And why shouldn’t he be? Again, he’s Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief.

More From Barb Lee!

White Racism Course Sparks Controversy at Florida Gulf Coast University

You can’t judge a book by its title and you can’t judge a course by its title, either.  My only issue is that the professor doesn’t need the word “white” in the title – not in the U.S.

Corporate America: Get Ready for Trans Employees

We aren’t even CLOSE to ready!

Racism Is Stopping Black Men From Solving Our Nursing Shortage

Any human being who has the skills to be a nurse should run to nursing school now. The contributions of good, skilled nurses is immeasurable. I was reminded of this fact this summer when my daughter was hospitalized for a major surgery. Because the humanity involved in being a nurse transcends any racial category, we should embrace any human being who can do this job.

Since the release of our documentary film I’m Not Racist… Am I? (INRAI), Point Made Learning (PML) has held more than 400 screenings and workshops across the United States. This antiracism programming engages diverse audiences and helps communities think, learn, and talk, about race and racism in ways they don’t often get a chance to do.

We’ve now developed an additional tool for deepening understanding of the film’s content: The I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital Experience). Vassar College is one of the first institutions to license our online course as part of the their INRAI package. Keep reading to learn about how they used the course, the film, and our workshops for a comprehensive first-year orientation program. And send us an email if you’d like to do something similar at your school or organization: programming@pointmade.com

The Vassar Screenings

Starting off the 2017 fall semester, several members of Vassar College’s faculty and administration wanted to take the university’s programming on diversity, equity and inclusion to the next level. Vassar already considered itself a progressive institution. But recent race-related issues on campus had highlighted a need for more work on these topics.

Enter I’m Not Racist… Am I?, Point Made Learning’s documentary film and new INRAI Digital Online Course, which Vassar used this October to engage its entire first-year class. Coordinating with several Vassar departments, we coached faculty and administration members on how to facilitate discussions of the film.

First-year students at Vassar College gather in discussion of INRAI for orientation antiracism programming.
First-year students at Vassar College gather in discussion of INRAI.

Then, we screened the film three separate times for the school’s first-year students. After each screening, we led group Q&A sessions, followed by smaller discussion groups facilitated by Vassar staff. In all, our workshops reached more than 600 students and educators — and they made a lasting impact on campus.

An article in the Vassar Miscellany News described the decision to bring I’m Not Racist… Am I? to the first-years as “a significant move by the administration.” It fostered discussion and helped deepen the student body’s understanding of racism in an effective, inclusive way.

“Because we realized that our students wanted to continue that conversation.”

Vassar conducts a first-year Orientation program which includes a diversity component each year. “This year, we decided to supplement that with this film,” said Associate Dean for Campus Life and Diversity Edward Pittman. “Because we realized that our students wanted to continue that conversation and have more opportunities to explore issues around race, gender, and other identities.”

“We had a large number of students who said, ‘This is great, we need to do more of this.’” Pittman added. “For us, it meant that our students are thinking, were engaged. And that’s exactly what you want a program like this to do — open up dialogue.”

Pittman and Associate Professor and Chair of Drama Shona Tucker and Associate Film Professor Mia Mask, (and other faculty and school departments who came on board) helped bring the film to Vassar. The idea to host the screenings originated when Tucker saw clips from the film at her son’s school and thought Vassar could use the content, too.

[tweetshareinline tweet=”What resources would you bring to your college campus to address issues of race in the community?” username=”PM_Learn”]

“Seeing the responses of the parents and the teachers who were there at my son’s school — and hearing the responses from my 11-year-old — it really hit me in poignant ways,” Tucker said. “So I thought, ‘This would really go well at Vassar,’ because Vassar had been having some serious racial disturbances on campus. So I started talking to Mia (Mask), and the deans, and anybody who would listen, really, saying, ‘We ought to bring this to Vassar College.’”

“We felt we needed a trial run with students,” she said, “so we did a screening for 30 students from all different backgrounds, and the students were, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah — this film should be shown!’ And then the discussion was, ‘when should it be shown, and to whom,’ and it was decided that freshman would be the ideal start.”

First-Year Orientation

The planning team chose first-years as their target audience because the film screenings could tie in to the existing Orientation programming. They also wanted to reach first-years because, as the newest students on campus — many of them may be inexperienced in dealing with these issues. And they have four years ahead of them for continued education and exploration.

It took the planning committee almost two years to make the screenings a reality. First, they had to clear the hurdles of administrative and financial red tape. Once they got through that, however, they agreed the effort was worth it.

“I was surprised it went so smoothly”

“I was surprised that it went so smoothly,” said Mask. “All of our screenings, our post-screening discussions, all of the breakout groups — all of that went as planned, and we were delighted.”

“After the film, so many students were standing up and offering honest, open revelations about their experience,” she said. “And we were really happy to see that. It’s been two years in the planning. It took so much to bring it to fruition, and it all just went off so well. For the vast majority of students, my sense is that this can be a positive catalyst for change.”

“It opened up a channel of conversation”

One student who attended the screenings, Chloe Crawford, agreed. “My group of friends, we’ve been having race-related discussions at lunches and dinners the past few weeks, and that’s because of the film,” she said. “My friend group is fairly white, except for myself and two other people of color. I think it’s great, honestly, that as a group we can have these discussions … I think it opened up a channel of conversation amongst us.”

Campus shot at Vasser College
Campus shot at Vasser College.

For Crawford, this was an important starting point for what she hopes will be an ongoing discussion that she and her classmates will have the rest of their college careers. And into their adult lives. One thing she emphasized was the film’s ability to create a safe space for people of color to come forward with thoughts and feelings that they may have shied away from expressing in the past.

“After the film, so many students were standing up and offering open, honest revelations about their experience. For the vast majority of students, my sense is that this can be a positive catalyst for change.”


“I think that the discussions afterwards facilitated by staff members seemed to allow for some of the people of color on campus to finally be able to speak in front of white students,” she said, “and not be seen that they were in the wrong, or be perceived that they were over-emotional or aggressive. So I thought that was empowering.”

In the future, Crawford suggested that Vassar consider showing the film to all students. Pittman acknowledged that’s something that’s already on their radar.

“Next semester, we’re thinking of showing I’m Not Racist… Am I? to sophomores, juniors, and seniors,” he said, “because they heard about the freshmen seeing it, and they said, ‘Why don’t we get to see it?’”

The Planning

In our interviews with Tucker, Mask, Pittman and Crawford, we discussed the steps they went through to actually make these screenings happen. Here are some of the highlights from our Q&A’s.

PML: You used our I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital Online Course to introduce faculty to the film and prep them for facilitating discussions with the students. How was your experience with our online learning modules?

  • Mia Mask: “The online modules are ideal for people who are actually committed to doing more. I think you need to watch the entire film once straight-through, and then the modules help you unpack the film afterward.”
  • Ed Pittman: “Everything that I saw in the modules — and what I’m hearing from faculty and administrators — is that it’s very helpful. I’ve received nothing but positive feedback.”

“Know your audience.”

PML: What advice do you have for other people who want to hold similar events? Say, your top 3 tips …

  • Shona Tucker: “One: Do as Ed had us do — meet, and meet. I thought meeting and meeting was going to be a real pain in the butt, but it actually kept the channels of communication clear. We knew who was supposed to do what.

“Two: The pilot program was not a bad idea, but know who you’re going to show it to.

“Three: Be prepared to have several follow-up conversations — not just immediately afterwards, but weeks afterwards as well to learn more about what’s happening.”

  • Mia Mask: “One: Know your audience.

“Two: Build a community of folks who want to work on this project with you — a good planning group or committee, that’s very important.

“Three: Make sure to follow up and follow through, because this film can be a great catalyst for change if you do your follow-up work.”

Setting Objectives

PML: Did our programming meet your objectives?

  • Ed Pittman: “Our objectives were to introduce a conversation that some students have had, but others haven’t had that opportunity, and to have a challenging dialogue. 

“The other day, a student emailed me saying, ‘I want to meet with you to discuss the movie.’ And we met and talked about a question he had that he had been discussing with one of his friends. That’s indicative of what’s out there. I know that the students are ruminating on the content of the movie, and that’s what we wanted to happen.”

“Whether people like the film or not, it creates discussion.”

PML: What’s the value of I’m Not Racist… Am I? And would you recommend that other universities and organizations screen it?

  • Chloe Crawford: “The value of the film is that it creates discussion. Whether people like the film or not, it creates discussion. And I would recommend that other universities screen it. I think Vassar tries really hard to open conversations on these issues. But I have friends at other schools that say things are really segregated there, and there are issues of violence against people of color. So it would be extremely important on those campuses.

“It raised a lot of questions for our students”

PML: What do you see as the long-term impact of this programming, and how does it fit into your overall strategy?

  • Ed Pittman: “I think the long-term impact is that it raised a lot of questions for our students. And I would like to see those students enroll in some of our coursework that addresses these issues. Or to attend lectures on campus around these subjects. It also raised the question of what more we can do beyond orientation, in a substantive way, for our students. For the first year, second year, third year, fourth year, it’s, ‘OK, now we’ve done this. What’s the next step?’ And that’s a good thing.”

“We need the tools, we need the skills, and we need the training.”

PML: Why is hosting events like this one important? Why did you do it?

  • Mia Mask: “We worked on this for two years because of what’s happening in our nation, and because of our national history. Because issues of structural inequality are omnipresent at every moment, at every juncture. Whether we’re talking about mass incarceration, college admissions and affirmative action … it’s clear across our society that we need healthier dialogue on race, racial difference, and structural inequality. We need the tools, we need the skills, and we need the training to talk about these issues.”

Bring INRAI to Your Institution

If you are interested in hosting a Point Made Learning film screening or workshop, please send us an email: programming@pointmade.com

Also, check out our new I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital Online Course — a valuable program for corporations and individuals who want to Look Deeper into race, racism, and bias.

About Point Made Learning

Point Made Learning is the consulting and programming extension of Point Made Films, a production company focused on telling stories about the many layers of American identity. We use documentary film to facilitate productive discussions around the most uncomfortable topics we face in American society – starting with racism. We’ve taken an innovative approach to raising awareness and organizing communities through our unique combination of storytelling, real talk, and digital tools. We tell true stories and teach powerful lessons about issues that matter.

We know there are so many resources on the topics of race, identity, antiracism, and equity that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing each week a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps and feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

How America Spreads the Disease that is Racism by not Confronting Racist Family Members and Friends

Scale showing ranges of racist beliefs and behavior. We've learned we can't think of racism in binary terms; it's a spectrum.
Racism Scale: Where do you fall? We’ve learned over the years that we can’t think of racism in binary terms (you’re either racist or you’re not). Source: https://racismscale.weebly.com/

I think the chart in this article says so much. And the author reminds us that we have to stand up at all times and all the time. I definitely had to check my own conscience. I remember a specific time when I was a guest at another family member’s house. Their grandfather, who was in his 90s, made a hateful comment and I didn’t take a stand. Should I have ruined Easter? You bet I should have. Instead, those family members have memories of a nice family gathering and I have memories of when I didn’t have personal integrity.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

This American Life – White Haze
I’ve been getting caught up on This American Life. This episode – White Haze – aired in September, but it’s still timely and relevant. In the wake of the events in Charlottesville last August, the episode’s producers dive in to right-wing and white supremacist organizations. The revelations in the first act are disturbing and, at times, just plain bizarre. In the second act, producer Robyn Semien interviews Jason Kessler, the man who organized the Charlottesville rally. It was one of those stories I stayed in my car to finish, even though I was already home. And I found the ending to be chilling.

This episode wasn’t just some look inside a freak show for me. I found it a necessary glimpse into the mindset of the people involved in these types of groups – especially because most of them say they aren’t racist. As producer Robyn Semien concludes, these aren’t people who are trying to hold on to their power; they actually don’t believe they have any. And they’re out to get it. Facing people who feel they have nothing to lose is a much different – and scarier – type of fight.

Radical Copyeditor
If you’re new to thinking about race and racism, this resource might not be the place to start. But if you’ve been at this for a while, and if you’re interested in the language we use when discussing issues of identity, check this site out. It completely speaks to the copyediting geek in me. And it presents incredible lessons about how to use language with more accuracy and inclusion. Check out the posts on Why it’s incredibly problematic to call white supremacists insane and Why we need to stop saying ‘politically correct’. These are just two of many insightful, easy-to-read, and incredibly instructive posts. This will now be a regular read for me!

From Sam Rosenthal

Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced
This GQ “Citizen of the Year” profile on Colin Kaepernick is remarkable for many reasons. But perhaps the most important reason is that Kaepernick doesn’t make a single on-the-record quote in the entire article. This is intentional. As the author of the article describes it: “As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence.” Instead of an interview, the magazine has published a photo essay accompanied by powerful quotes about Kaepernick by those who know him.

It’s hard to put into words the feelings this video conjures, as a Jewish person and a human being. The woman being interviewed did not only survive Auschwitz, but also the horrific medical experiments performed by the infamous doctor Josef Mengele. In the video, she describes what happened to her and her family at Auschwitz, as well as her experience after the war. Ultimately, she got in touch with a different former Nazi doctor, and the two of them went back to Auschwitz together — he to apologize, and she to accept his apology. Her decision to forgive this man is a painful one for many Jews (she describes how the Holocaust survivors’ community ostracized her for doing it). But at heart, it is an incredible lesson on the healing power that forgiveness can have on one’s soul.
Each week, we want to share with you what we’ve learned. Because at Point Made Learning, when it comes to the topics of race, identity, and equity in the U.S., we are subject-matter learners. Not experts. In fact, we think these issues are so complex that the best any of us can hope for is to continue learning. As a team, we consistently challenge one another to stay curious and question our own thinking. That’s because we ask people in our screenings and workshops to do the same thing.
As much as we learned this week, we have so much to unlearn.
As much as we learned this week, there’s still so much to unlearn. As seen on an Upper West Side NYC sidewalk.

We know there are so many resources available that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps you continue learning, too. And feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

We’re All Mad Here: Weinstein, Women, and the Language of Lunacy

“He has demons.” The language of madness is the last resort for a society that can no longer deny the evidence of structural oppression and violence.

We have always used the word crazy to minimize people.  Now, it’s a way to explain things that really are about our values. I like this author’s voice of holding us accountable for what we say and what we do.

When I was nineteen years old, Elie Wiesel grabbed my ass.

It’s not just losing heroes. It’s that we have to see just how systemic issues of discrimination are in our society. They run deep and we all need to do some personal inventory to unlearn how to protect everyone and everything except the victim.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

A new survey shows white millennials think a lot more like whites than millennials

We’ve noticed over the past several years at our workshops that younger generations aren’t quite the antiracist superheroes they’re often made out to be. We older folks like to leave progress up to “the next generation” as if they’re magically going to know how to deconstruct systems of oppression. That can’t happen if we don’t have important conversations, dig in to expert analysis, and really start to change the laws, policies, and practices that fuel oppression.

But here’s another problem: If more white people don’t look deeper within ourselves to get clear on our biases and blind spots, then we won’t find the motivation to participate in antiracism work. This article highlights some key findings by a recent study: “The ‘Woke’ Generation?: Millenial Attitudes on Race in the US” and it’s pretty troubling. The question mark in the study title is the first clue. This is an important read to understand how much work needs to be done. We’ve got to work on building greater awareness AND bridging the chasm between how white people perceive race in the US and how people of color are experiencing it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has an incredibly clear explanation for why white people shouldn’t use the n-word

To be perfectly forthcoming, I have a hard time finding patience anymore when people ask me at I’m Not Racist… Am I? screenings why white people can’t say the “N Word.” Young people, especially, want to know why they can’t say it when singing along to their favorite songs. Now I can point people toward this video. In it, Ta-Nehisi Coates responds to a question from a young woman looking for advice on how best to respond to that question. This is the best explanation I’ve ever heard and, of course, it’s about so much more than just who can/can’t say the “N Word.” We shared this over on our Facebook page earlier this week and it’s so incredibly brilliant in its simplicity and insight, that it’s worth sharing again. I encourage everyone to watch and share this.

The Democratic Party owes black female voters a big ‘thank you’

Yes to all of this! The Democratic party would be nowhere without black women voters – and not just their votes, but their contribution to analysis, policy, and organizing. And still, the party takes them for granted as a constituency while falling over itself to win over the white working class. This article provides a lot of compelling data on this week’s election results that prove how vital black women are to Democrats. The article ends with this critical point: “With the support of black women being a key piece of the Democratic Party’s Election Day successes, the question now is: Will the Democratic Party show its support for them?”

From Deionna Wilburn

Miscarriages in Flint: ‘I Really Believe It’s the Water’

Pollution and poverty are so prevalent in low-income communities of color that it boggles the mind. Flint, Michigan is back in the news because people want answers as to what exactly their water issues are doing to their bodies.


Implicit bias is real despite studies trying to diminish or outright debunk its effect on our daily lives. It appears that not only do I have to be wary of driving while black, but walking while black is now a thing, too. Sigh.

From Sam Rosenthal

If the Texas Church Shooter Wasn’t White

This article looks at how the Texas Church Shooter’s whiteness plays a critical role in how we view his violence. So far, authorities haven’t labeled Devin Patrick Kelley a terrorist. Moreover, white people as a whole haven’t been held responsible in any way for Kelley’s actions. If Kelley had been Muslim, Latino, or Black, however, this would likely be playing out very differently.

From Emily Martinez

How Temporary Work Visas Hurt Migrant Women

Migrant women joining the American workforce face a unique combination of obstacles. And this reality doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon. We see this play out in our life-size version of the American Dream Board Game – one of the game’s characters just can’t get ahead or catch a break no matter what she does or what kind of help she’s offered. And while that’s just a game, the issue is very real. This article sheds important light on this under-reported issue.
We say all the time at Point Made Learning that, when it comes to the topics of race, identity, and equity in the U.S., we are subject-matter learners. Not experts. In fact, we think these issues are so complex that the best any of us can hope for is to continue learning. As a team, we consistently challenge one another to stay curious and question our own thinking. That’s because we ask people in our screenings and workshops to do the same thing. So each week, we’d like to share with you what we’ve learned.
What we've learned: collection of books on race and racism
What we’ve learned about race and racism started with these books.

We know there are so many resources available that trying to stay informed can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re sharing a few select articles and videos that we’ve found insightful as we do our work.

We hope this helps you continue learning, too. And feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

From Barb Lee

First Person: Sexual Harassers Are Poisonous, and So Are the Companies That Protect Them – IndieWire

This article gets to the institutional power of sexism in the workplace. The author – a friend of mine – points out the pervasive use of non-disclosure agreements and how they silence sexual assault victims.  More than that, they’re designed to protect criminals. Reading this may help people think about ways we misuse power to maintain systemic and institutional racism, too. That’s my hope, at least.

For Guys Reading #MeToo Testimonies – On Being

I like this article because it so aligns with how white people can approach anti-racism work when they first begin. And, it’s just perfect advice for men who are trying to figure what to do with all the news about sexual assault.

Checking My Male Privilege – NY Times

This inspired me to keep doing the work we do.  Charles Blow gets it right.

From Catherine Wigginton Greene

Three Tensions at the Heart of Fighting Racism as a White Person – On Being

I’m a big fan of On Being. In the current climate of never-ending information and opinions, I land on the On Being website and can literally feel my breath slow down. Unlike so much else out there, On Being contributors aren’t adding to the noise just for the sake of being involved in the conversation. Rather, their work is insightful, complex, and questioning. In the piece I’ve linked to above, Courtney E. Martin shares some really helpful suggestions for white people who are trying to interrupt racism. And I suggest anyone interested in exploring some of the bigger questions of our time visit the site regularly.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Schools John Kelly On History Of Civil War And ‘Compromise’

So, I’m all for calling people in (instead of calling them out) so that we can have more constructive dialogue. And I almost always advocate for these types of interactions to happen in-person, not online. BUT! Constructive dialogue is impossible with people in positions of power who use their platform to lie, bully, and defend the indefensible. And in those cases (of which there are way too many these days), we need to speak truth to power. And that’s just what Ta-Nehisi Coates did this week via Twitter in response to John Kelly’s disturbing interpretation of what caused the US Civil War. Read Coates’ mic-drop-worthy, historical takedown of Kelly’s statements. It’s satisfying. But more importantly, you’ll likely learn something about the Civil War that you didn’t know before.

Cultural Appropriation at Halloween: My Culture Is Not a Costume – Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue continues to kill it these days with content that goes deep and hits hard in looking at inequity in American society. I really appreciated this video they released this week. It features young women sharing what it can feel like for them when they see their culture being portrayed in a costume. Use this and our I Wish I Were Black educational video and discussion guides to really get to the heart of cultural appropriation.

From Deionna Wilburn

Swipe my race: ‘If you’re only dating someone for their skin colour, you should consider why’ – The Guardian

Daters gonna date and they should have the right to choose…but in walks racial preference. Does the inclination for one race over another stem from or lead to insensitive stereotypes?  The London-based Swipe My Race video explores how “liking what you like” can be problematic and hurtful for everyone involved.

From Sam Rosenthal

Schools are segregated because white people want them that way – Vox

This powerful interview with MacArthur “genius grant” awardee Nikole Hannah-Jones sheds light on the perspective she brings to her work. Jones’ award-winning reporting on schools and segregation should be read by all Americans who are trying to better understand systemic racism.

You may have heard in the past few weeks: we’ve expanded our I’m Not Racist… Am I? screening-workshop model. Now, schools and organizations can use the film themselves as a tool in their antiracism work. We’re still taking the film out ourselves, too. But our new YOULead program makes seeing the film more affordable. And it includes a 3.5-hour online antiracism course and facilitation training. We hope this builds an even bigger team of leaders ready to strengthen more communities around the country.

Now It’s Your Turn to Lead Antiracism Dialogue

"I'm Not Racist... Am I" screens on display before a university screening and antiracism workshop.
“I’m Not Racist… Am I?” has screened nearly 400 times, bringing antiracism discussions to communities all over the United States.

If you sign up for this program, we’ll first provide you with access to our new online course – I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital. Then, you’ll go through a video conference coaching session with one of our master facilitators to prepare you for showing the film and leading post-screening discussions in your community. Once you complete all of this, you’ll get:

  • A 5-day license to screen the film as many times as you want, for as many viewers in your community as you’d like.
  • Lifetime access to our Look Deeper curriculum, which includes film clips, bonus videos, discussion guides, and lesson plans.

Our plan is to give you what you need for sustained antiracism work and continued engagement with the subject matter.

We first announced this program a few weeks ago so we’ve now had a handful of organizations go through it. And we think it’s working! Keep reading to find out more.

Our very first YOULead was organized by a city-county partnership in Iowa City, Iowa – the Johnson County Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee and the City of Iowa City Equity and Human Rights Office – led by LaTasha DeLoach, a licensed master social worker. Below is LaTasha’s write-up of their event last week. And here’s some local press coverage of the event.

If you’re ready to sign your organization up for YOULead, send us an email: programming@pointmade.com

Notes from the Field – LaTasha DeLoach, Iowa City

Approximately 120 community members attended our first screening of I Am Not A Racist…Am I? Attendees were very diverse in age and were overall representative of the Iowa City community. Following the screening and an hour and a half facilitated discussion, attendees were asked to complete a brief survey about their experience (See the attached survey on page 2). Overall, survey results were very supportive of the film. 100% of respondents said they would recommend the event to their friends and family. Attendees were also asked to rate various aspects of the screening on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best). Below are the average scores for each component of the event:

  • Content: 4.85
  • Logistics & Organization: 4.76
  • Engagement & Conversation: 4.5
  • Location/Date/Time: 4.47

Attendees were also asked to comment on their favorite part of the event. Majority of comments were on the content of the film, how thought provoking it was, and how much they loved the focus on youth. They also enjoyed the discussion.

Below are a few of the responses we received:

“I’d heard about it – great film. Great to see this from the eyes of teens – ingenious way of getting us older folks in.”

“Enlightening! Hearing different points of view. Made me examine my own thinking.”

“The ideas it uncovered; the pressing for discussion.”

“It was funny, relatable which made it easier to digest as a white person.”

“The opportunity to learn more about racism and its effect on society and individuals. The maturity of the teens involved was impressive.”

“Great film and great chance for community to come together and learn from each other.”

“Great attendance! I go to similar community events in town often and don’t see this many people or range of ages. Whatever you did to get word out it worked.”

When asked how the event could be improved, most attendees mentioned needing more time for discussion and having the screening at an earlier time, on weekends, or doing it more often. Some of the attendee comments include:

“Need to know more about how the systemic oppression works.”

“Take it to the schools.”


If you’ve been wanting to incorporate I’m Not Racist… Am I? into your antiracism work, but haven’t been able to make our model fit with your budget and objectives, we hope this new program makes sense for you. If you’re ready to try YOULead, send us an email: programming@pointmade.com

Since the release of the documentary film I’m Not Racist… Am I?, Point Made Learning (PML) has held more than 400 screenings and workshops across the United States. Facilitated by senior members of our staff, these events engage diverse audiences and help communities think, learn, and – most importantly – talk about race and racism in ways they don’t often get a chance to do.

Some of our events involve a screening of the 90-minute film, followed by a 30-minute Q&A. Sometimes we get a chance to go a lot deeper, when organizers make a commitment to plan a series of events that engage every segment of their city over the course of several days. It takes a ton of work to make that happen, but the impact can be far-reaching and significant.

For those of you thinking about hosting your own I’m Not Racist… Am I? screenings and workshops, we think that reading about what other groups have done might be helpful in your planning process. We’ve reached out to a few of the people who have been instrumental in some of our larger programs across the U.S. and asked them to talk about what went into planning and executing, what worked/what didn’t, and what they wish they’d known.

Keep reading to learn about our May 2017 programming in Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa Public Radio interviews Catherine Wigginton-Greene, director of "I'm Not Racist... Am I?"
Iowa Public Radio interviews Catherine Wigginton-Greene, director of “I’m Not Racist… Am I?”

This past May, a number of community groups collaborated with Point Made Learning to bring I’m Not Racist… Am I? (INRAI) to Des Moines, Iowa. There, partnerships forged between church groups, high schools and Drake University made it possible for the film to screen three different times — twice at local high schools, and once at the Drake University auditorium. Among the audiences who watched the film were the faculty from every Des Moines area high school (approximately 600 teachers total), high school and college students, and community members interested in deepening the conversation about race and racism.

One of the screenings’ primary organizers, Sheena Thomas, got involved when members of Des Moines’ Anti-Racism Collaborative reached out to her because they were all part of a multi-church network called AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy). Thomas was able to secure grant money to fund the screenings, and she was able to recruit local stakeholders to join in the planning process.

For the Des Moines community, screening the film was about more than hosting a neighborhood movie night; the organizers intended for INRAI to help people tackle difficult issues that affect many groups in their area. For example, Thomas said, the local high schools have a major issue with out-of-school suspensions and the “School to Prison Pipeline” that primarily affects minority populations.

“That is a huge problem here,” said Thomas. “Iowa has one of the highest incarceration rates for minorities in the pipeline … so there is a lot of work to be done here, and that was a rationale for bringing this in to the schools.”

According to Thomas, many people “just don’t get” why issues of race and racism are so important. “They don’t have to live with it in any way, shape or form,” she said, “so it’s hard to get them to understand, to see things differently, from another perspective.”

Like the stone Sisyphus was pushing up the hill over and over, the issues of racism and white privilege will not go away without more and more education.

Films like INRAI are a major aid in reaching those people and helping them find the alternative perspectives of which Thomas speaks. She said, “The films generated enough discussion and provocation that people were still discussing it long after the showing, and I thought that was really good.” She added that one of the organizers’ goals was “to develop enough sensitivity so that we’d have some leaders who wanted to pursue doing something on the subject,” and that has been the case — after the events, young adults created a Race Education Committee, an adult group formed to discuss these issues, and the Anti-Racism Collaborative held a speaker series for AMOS members to attend.

When asked why hosting events like the INRAI screenings is important, Thomas was direct: “Like the stone Sisyphus was pushing up the hill over and over, the issues of racism and white privilege will not go away without more and more education. That’s why.”

Inside the Planning and Promotion Process

In our discussion with Thomas, she discussed what it took to bring the screenings to life. Here are some of the highlights from our Q&A.

PML: Once you had the idea, what were the steps you took toward making it a reality?

Sheena Thomas: The Anti-Racism Collaborative was very good about saying, ‘Let’s have meetings,” and setting dates, and getting things done before each meeting which needed to be done. We worked on who we were going to market to … then it was working on the marketing and working to get interviews for (PML’s) Catherine Wigginton Greene to do with two TV stations and the public radio station. Also, we had posters that we put up all over for the screenings, around the churches and shop windows, and around Roosevelt High School. And I was able to get a billboard — several billboards — as places for community publicity.

PML: If you could do the process over again, what is one thing you’d do differently?

ST: I would start the public marketing earlier, and it would have been better to have Catherine’s interviews air a little sooner to give people in the public more info and time to plan. Oh, and because I thought we might be overrun or overwhelmed with people attending, I suggested sign-ups online. That may have actually deterred people from coming.

 PML: Was there anything that happened which really surprised you? What was it, and why was it surprising? 

ST: Getting to know the members of the Anti-Racism Collaborative, the students of the groups at two of the Des Moines High Schools, the faculty and administrators in charge of school climate and their eagerness and thoughtfulness were surprising to me. Also, the total backing we received from staff and foundation at Plymouth Church was amazing. One of the people on the foundation was instrumental in helping us get our marketing done.

 PML: Overall, what were the biggest challenges you faced as an organizer? How did you respond to these challenges?

ST: My biggest challenge was working on the organizing in and around my job. There was a lot of emailing that had to be done and which did impinge on my work time at my shop and on my home time as well. I was very grateful for the others who were also organizing on their own.

 PML: What advice do you have for other people who want to hold similar events? Say, your top 3 tips…

ST: One: Start early — 9 months before the event was good in our case.

Two: Get buy-in from several groups and collaborate in the planning. And share the costs.

Three: Market like crazy and use the resources offered by Point Made Learning when doing so.

If you are interested in hosting a Point Made Learning film screening or workshop, please send us an email: programming@pointmade.com

Also, check out our new I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital Online Course — a valuable program for corporations and individuals who want to Look Deeper into race, racism, and bias.

Point Made Learning is the consulting and programming extension of Point Made Films, a production company focused on telling stories about the many layers of American identity. We use documentary film to facilitate productive discussions around the most uncomfortable topics we face in American society – starting with racism. We’ve taken an innovative approach to raising awareness and organizing communities through our unique combination of storytelling, real talk, and digital tools. We tell true stories and teach powerful lessons about issues that matter.

Earlier this month, Point Made Learning (PML) partnered with WeWork to organize a community-wide event related to our newest initiatives – the I’m Not Racist… Am I? Digital Course and “The American Dream” Life-Size Game Experience. Read on to learn more about the program and to hear from participants about the game’s impact.

Livin’ the Dream

The American Dream Life-Size Game features 12 different “characters” from diverse racial and socioeconomic demographics and backgrounds. The characters roll giant dice and advance along the game board to try and reach “success” — but there’s a catch: After each player’s turn, a facilitator reads a Chance Card aloud. Taken from real life scenarios, each card affects one or more groups in society differently than others, and some players have to move back spaces or lose turns, while others take extra steps ahead. The idea is to give players a sense of how the path toward achieving the American Dream is easier for some than others.

On WeWork Penn Station’s “community floor,” we rolled out the giant life-size American Dream game floor board and invited WeWork members to play. Point Made’s Catherine Wigginton Greene and Lenny Walker took the lead in hosting the game, and helping guide the ongoing discussions among players. Two different groups played the game during the 2+ hour event, but they were far from the only people involved; the majority of the spectators assembled for the Happy Hour received hand-out “fans” which assigned audience members to be on the same team as one of the characters in the game. By the end of the night, everyone had learned something — and they had a good time doing it.

Rave Reviews

The people who played the American Dream game had nothing but positive things to say about it, as did those who set up the event.

“It actually made me think about things from someone else’s perspective, things I wouldn’t have thought of before,” said Pepper Jefferson, a WeWork member who played the game as the character Isabella — a woman who has emigrated from Mexico to the U.S.

“It’s weird because, for the first time, I really did experience my privilege as a U.S. citizen,” Jefferson said. “And it’s sad, because in real life, so many people know that they’re not going to be able to attain the American Dream because there’s so many setbacks.”

Taurean Casey played the game as well, and he felt it did a great job of delving into controversial topics without making people feel judged, attacked, or afraid to speak freely. He also said the game increased the players’ self-awareness:

“It’s so deep and so real that you are forced to question some of your own viewpoints.”

Casey said that role-playing as one of the characters helps players develop “a sense of self” with that character, “so when you’re going through the game, it’s easier to identify with the real-life version of that character, what that person might go through, and to gain an understanding of how people are affected by things they have no control over.” He added:

[tweetshareinline tweet=”It was one of the easiest experiences that I’ve had to deal with such difficult topics.” username=”PM_Learn”]

And, according to Bianca Rae Hernandez, WeWork Penn Station’s Front Desk Associate who helped organize the activities, “It was super collaborative, and it was great to see that people wanted to participate.” Hernandez called PML’s team members “humble, amazing people to work with.” (No arguments here!)

Jefferson said she “would recommend The American Dream game to everyone, older and younger, because it really is fun.”

And, Hernandez added, “It was a great event. We would definitely do it again, hands-down.”

If you are interested in scheduling your own American Dream experience, send us an email: programming@pointmade.com

Point Made Learning is the consulting and programming extension of Point Made Films, a production company focused on telling stories about the many layers of American identity. We use documentary film to facilitate productive discussions around the most uncomfortable topics we face in American society – starting with racism. We’ve taken an innovative approach to raising awareness and organizing communities through our unique combination of storytelling, real talk, and digital tools. We tell true stories and teach powerful lessons about issues that matter.