pseg true diversity film series presents: white fragility

In partnership with PSEG, NJPAC will continue its True Diversity Film Series, screening issues-based films followed by engaging panel discussions.  This season, the films we present will focus on social and racial justice, in response to the uprisings against systemic racism that have spread around the globe in 2020.

To continue this series safely during the pandemic, this season, the series will work a little like a book club does: We’ll all watch the selected films at our homes on our own timeline, and then come together on a video conference to discuss the film, with help from a panel and a moderator who can offer context and insight.

Our next film this season will be White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

Published in 2018, DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, examines why white people — even those who identify as liberal or progressive – become defensive when challenged to confront their own racism. DiAngelo, an antiracist educator, suggests that when white people dismiss racism as something practiced only by “bad” or “mean” people, they both shut down any meaningful dialogue, and perpetuate racial inequality through their silence.

What white people need to understand is that “racism is “a system, not an event,” DiAngelo explains – and “none of us are exempt from its force.”

So how can white people become allies of those fighting racial injustice? Through this conversation, we will examine ways that white people can become actively antiracist.

We encourage everyone to view this film of DiAngelo reading from her book and discussing the reaction to it, taped at the Seattle Central Library in 2018. Then, please join us for a virtual panel discussion moderated by Richard Cammarieri, Director of Community Engagement at the New Community Corporation and a lifelong Newarker and community organizer. Among many other positions, Richard currently serves as an Executive Committee member of the Newark Branch NAACP.

The panel discussion will be held at 7PM on Monday, August 24. You can register for the panel discussion here.

Our panel will feature guests who will discuss the impact of white fragility and systemic racism on our local communities, as well as the role the arts can play in advancing social justice. They include:

  • Tobie Stein, a two-time Fulbright Specialist and a member of the Diversity Scholars Network at the National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan, and a member of the American Sociological Association. She is the author of five books, including Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Performing Arts Workforce (Routledge 2020). She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, focusing on career and workforce development, from The CUNY Graduate Center.
  • Becca Zimmerman, a rising senior at Pitzer College, where she is majoring in Political Studies and Economics. Becca has been politically involved for several years, having previously interned on congressional and presidential campaigns, and spending this past fall semester in Washington, DC, interning on the Hill full-time for Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and taking night classes through Claremont Mckenna College’s Washington Program. After being elected Student Body President of Pitzer College this spring, she has split her time this summer between serving her college, and collaborating with current students and fellow alumni from Newark Academy, a private school in Livingston, to challenge deep-rooted racism in the school’s policies and culture.
  • Mark Katz is John P. Barker Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Founding Director of the hip hop cultural diplomacy program, Next Level. His books include Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World. He is a former chair of UNC’s Department of Music and former Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. He is currently working with death row inmates in North Carolina to bring attention to injustice in America’s prisons through the arts.