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Mr. Sun gets it right on 1979, the TRC, and its report:
There is a truth in the work of the Commission that I believe could make a real impact on a much wider audience, if only more attention were paid to telling the story with a more empathetic and less pedantic touch. Here is a quick, yet bad example of what I mean:
Imagine you wake up one sunny November morning and cook breakfast for your young daughter. She's coloring at the kitchen table. You share a few stories and laughs. She gets up to help you with the dishes, and the sun comes through the kitchen window in front of you. As you hand her a plate to dry, there is a loud crackling sound. You look out the window and in front of you a chaotic scene of attack, retreat, gunfire, and death plays out in your neighborhood. You scream for your daughter to get down and take cover. Later, you comfort her but the color of the day, week, and who knows how much more has darkened. She's seen things you never wanted her to see. You feel a sense of failure and guilt over not being able to protect her. Something valuable was lost.
Fast forward to today and we know from the Commission's report that the GPD knew in advance of the very real risk of precisely these violent events in your neighborhood on that sunny November morning.
Put aside for a moment all of the labels: Communists, Nazis, Klan, and the rest -- a debt is owed and unpaid to that mother and child. Call it what you will -- apology, reconciliation ... I don't care. It's due.
It matters how you tell a story, and this one needs a rewrite.
Jun 22, 2006 at 09:10 AM in Truth & Reconciliation | Permalink
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mr. sun practically told the story of 10 year-old kwame cannon in greensboro's child. all he'd have to do is extend it to say how the little girl (or boy in kwame's case) didn't know how to square all that violence and anger as he grew up, which led to... well, go to the library and rent it for yourself (or order it from the web site... cheap).
sean coon |
Jun 22, 2006 at 11:19 AM
Sean -- The Kwame Cannon story is a perfect example of how not to make this point. It explicitly brings a highly charged political element into the room and forces people to make conclusions and alliances they are unwilling to accept. Please don't lecture me on the validity of these viewpoints: that misses the point by a mile. The Kwame Cannon story is one story -- his, and yours in your film. Thank you for telling it, but that's not a path to reconciliation.
Mr. Sun |
Jun 22, 2006 at 11:28 AM
excuse me, mr. sun, but when did i begin to lecture you? i absolutely agree with the focus on the morningside homes. i've commented to that effect here and elsewhere. your narrative is especially poignant and i'm taking nothing away from it.
but there is a segment of greensboro's child (my brother's film, btw) where kwame and his mother talk about what it was like for him to grow up in school as the child of wilema, hearing things like "your mother is responsible for the deaths of those people."
how does that "miss the point by a mile?" it's the same point, told from the perspective of another child caught up in the mix, just as innocent as your daughter.
he was 10 years-old and at the scene of the shooting; he saw people that he broke bread and sang with -- people that knew and loved as friends, not communists -- die right in front of him.
if you want to cast a political cloud over that story -- "that's not a path to reconciliation" -- that's your business, your agenda.
andy's film deconstructs the events of 11/3, but the overall focus is about how it affected kwame, an innocent child.
sean coon |
Jun 22, 2006 at 11:45 AM
1) i meant to say your daughter "story"
2) also "die right in front of him with the murderers getting completely off"
sean coon |
Jun 22, 2006 at 11:50 AM
I say a political cloud is over that story, whether I cast it or not. I say it does many things fantastically, but one of them is not bringing to the table those who are absent. If you disagree with that statement, no problem. I see the truth of it as self-evident. I am beyond weary of standing by while two polarized sides wage a rhetorical war. I'd rather ruffle the feathers of true believers and carve out a middle ground with a big "KEEP OUT" sign where the messy work of moving the masses a little closer together can be achieved.
Mr. Sun |
Jun 22, 2006 at 12:08 PM
sean coon |
Jun 22, 2006 at 12:16 PM
Let me also answer a private e-mail I received, summarized as "So, what do you recommend, Mr. Big Shot?" Fair question. It's really not a mystery what could happen, and it's not momentous -- but I see it as a victory for Greensboro. Here's how it could go. Keith Holliday, Tom Phillips and those with similar views say something like this: "I opposed this process, and I oppose much of what I have read in the TRC report. That hasn't changed. Something else has changed, however: my commitment to bringing Greensboro together and helping it grow. I'm going to keep all my grievances, but I'm taking them with me into some discussions and I'll try to find points of agreement and ways to come together. I may find none, I may find many -- but I'm not a quitter and I won't give up trying." Nelson Johnson, the GTRP, and the TRC say something like this: "We have a past that many disagree with and a proposed path to a shared future that many do not want to follow. We understand that. We're going to keep our roadmap, and even if we can't convince others to follow it we'll work as hard as possible to find common mileposts and shared destinations." Then, the two groups will arrive at a very few, extremely vague points of agreement. Maybe more, maybe less. They'll issue a candyass announcement overstating the success of the process, and many will then pounce with ridicule. But, many won't. I won't. I'll be happy for the practice they got talking, listening, and not taking the easy way out. I'll be proud that when a stage presented itself, they took it as statesmen. I'll be glad they fought the instinct to separate and fight and instead took a step towards the middle. A curtain has been drawn and a moment has been made -- I'm not asking for paradise, just a good faith effort to show up and make the best of it.
Mr. Sun |
Jun 22, 2006 at 05:35 PM
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