Race is a hot topic here in Madison these days. The latest entry into the community conversation took place last Friday when the Justified Anger coalition unveiled their "Our Madison Plan"
which was designed to help set the city on a course to deal with the problems that have beset the black community here. I was not at the event but I'd bet that Jonathon Leslie-Quam, Jamie Quam, and Sheba McCants were as they are the producers of a documentary called Forward: Anger Into Action
which looks at Madison as it tries to deal with a black community falling further behind its white counterpart. They describe it as "an observational portrait of a city at a crossroads". Here's a teaser:
The project is seeking money via an IndieGoGo campaign
and it looks like it will be very interesting. You can also find out more from this article
at The Madison Times.
That article at The Madison Times notes that the genesis of their documentary came on the heels of the "Race to Equity" report
which was released in October 2013. It laid out for all to see the iniquitous disparities between whites and blacks in Dane County with regards to poverty, unemployment, education, arrest rates, et al. So it's no surprise that the report seems to be the movie's starting point. Given the frequency of Rev. Alex Gee in the trailer, he seems to be the protagonist of the movie. With the sting of the "Race to Equity" report still lingering Gee loosed his "Justified Anger" essay
onto Madison's white liberals in The Capital Times. A black middle class pastor and a native of Madison (as opposed to an interloper from Chicago), Gee described being the victim of racial profiling by Madison's men in blue and pointed an accusatory finger at the white liberal majority of the city. A large swathe of white Madison shivered at the touch of this Ithuriel's spear
In the trailer Erica Nelson, the Project Director for the Race to Equity Project says that her organization's report took a lot of people by surprise. This is extremely sad considering that another report, "The State of Black Madison 2008: Before the Tipping Point"
, had given a similarly distressing picture for blacks in Madison five years previously. While I cannot say with certainty why that earlier report didn't start a larger conversation in Madison about racial disparities, the few returns I got in a Google search for it sure makes a prima facie case that a paucity of media attention is a leading factor.
Labels: Cinema, Madison, Race