This week: Protests are happening across America in response to the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.
It has been a difficult week–from anger at racism towards Black Americans and mounting violence against peaceful protesters to watching as our colleagues reporting on the front lines get shot at and arrested by the police. It’s been tough to process and tough to find the right words. We are a community of filmmakers, journalists, photographers, and storytellers, and the images and documentation I’ve seen from y’all have been incredibly powerful and important. KitSplit continues to stand in solidarity and support with the Black community and with protesters.
Journalists Under Fire
It would be too easy or dismissive to say that this comes with the territory, that it is a hazard of the job. CNN’s Brian Stelter explains that
There have always been scattered altercations and protests and arrests of reporters amid protests. Those have been denounced and in some cases police have apologized. Reporters sued the police in Ferguson and changed the result. But there’s a real fear about the amount of attacks and arrests and the severity of them. There are signs of increasing hostility towards journalists at protests. It’s getting worse than it was in the past.
LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske says
I’ve covered protests involving police in Ferguson…Baton Rouge…Dallas and Los Angeles. I’ve also covered the U.S. military in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. I have never been fired at by police until tonight.
Be safe out there.
Hollywood Has A Plan
Across the world production guilds, unions and companies have been hard at work developing a set of guidelines for filming in a pandemic. We’ve covered some of these rules already, and more recently the UK has released official plans for production and post-production.
Hollywood this week announced their reopening plan:
The 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines for Motion Picture, Television, and Streaming Productions During the COVID-19 Pandemic” document was sent to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday.
You can read the entire proposal here, and I recommend you do. The next step is approval from NY Gov. Cuomo and CA Gov. Gavin Newsom. It is unclear if either have looked at the reports, and given all that is happening right now in CA and NY I would guess the answer is no.
There was no response from his [Gov Cuomo] Sacramento office today if they had received the white paper from the Hollywood players. No word yet from back East if Cuomo’s folks have laid eyes on the report either.
Deadline also warns that
it is expected that production in the coronavirus-ravaged Los Angeles and New York City will require several more steps before anyone feels the time is right to head back on to a set.
We will continue to closely monitor this.
As the protests march forward, I’ve been using my time to better educate myself on racism in America. I want my continued learning to inform how I personally, and how we at KitSplit, can actively contribute to changing systemic racism. I started with this reading list from Ibram X. Kendi published in the NY Times.
This led me to Langston Hughes essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” Hughes was a member of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s, and a lot of what he wrote 100 years ago remains insightful today. I am certainly not who Hughes was writing to when he wrote this (I am a first generation Asian American man), yet this essay still resonates deeply with me.
[I]t is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering “I want to be white,” hidden in the aspirations of his people, to “Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro–and beautiful!”
I then started digging into Ibram X. Kendi book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” with a goal of recognizing implicit biases and views I myself may hold. Kendi’s argument is that it is not hate that led to discrimination, but rather it’s the other way around: institutionalized discrimination has led to racist ideas and further to ignorance and hate. His newer book “How To Be Antiracist” is also relevant.
From a completely different perspective, I found this blog post informative on “Police Union Privileges.”
Alex Tabarrok, economics professor at GMU, previously wrote an academic paper called “To Serve and Collect: The Fiscal and Racial Determinants of Law Enforcement” where he documents the negative consequences of police keeping fines and forfeitures, and in this blog post he digs into police union contracts and explains some of his takeaways and advocates for reforms. He quotes the Florida Bill of Rights:
The law enforcement officer or correctional officer under interrogation may not be subjected to offensive language or be threatened with transfer, dismissal, or disciplinary action. A promise or reward may not be made as an inducement to answer any questions.
and Tabarrok goes on to say:
What does it say about our justice system that the police don’t want their own tactics used against them?
Documentarian Stanley Nelson says, “We really believe this is a time when filmmakers of color can have a chance to tell their stories. It’s incumbent on white filmmakers to help them do that, to move out of the way so that they can do that.” I recommend the whole interview.
Spike Lee releases “3 Brothers” short film.
Criterion Channel announces they are taking down the paywall on contemporary and historically important films by Black filmmakers and about Black lives.
Stay safe and see you next week.