Recently we’ve seen several extraordinary short videos that attempt to temper the ferocious rise of racial stereotyping and fear that has beset our nation over the past months, to shift people OUT of their knee-jerk views. Since watching them, we’ve found ourselves riding New York City’s packed, sometimes bleak subways with a very different, much softer view of the strangers we encounter. We off these three videos as we roll into the weekend, for you to watch at leisure, and question a few assumptions.
Above, the legendary Michael K. Williams who played Omar Little in The Wire and Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire, explores the question Am I typecast? to incredibly moving effect. One question:
You think everybody don’t got a role to play?
In 2016, Amnesty International released Look Beyond Borders a video which shows strangers— refugees and Europeans —sitting across from one another and making eye contact for several minutes. The result is a palpable sense of empathy that transcends language altogether.
The idea originated in a 1997 study by psychologist Arthur Aron The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness. He found that in as little as four minutes of eye contact with a stranger you can develop a bond, a closeness. It reminds us very much of artist Marina Abramovic’s master work The Artist is Present. (Video link here.)
Refugees: The Shared Story of Harry and Ahmed is a 2-minute stunner that presents the stories of Ahmed, 12, from Damascus in Syria, and Harry, 92, from Berlin, Germany. The two tell their individual, very similar, stories of being forced to flee their homes and their harrowing journeys in search of safety, 70 years apart. (Video link here.)
With thanks to Pamela Hovland, creator of I AM MORE THAN______, for alerting us to Look Beyond Borders.