“Hey White People, guess what? Sit with this discomfort of holding this privilege and power because you do.” Thus says Tracy MacDonald Co-Producer and Director of the film Whitelandia.
Dateline Thursday January 22, 2015 – Portland, Oregon: This past week Portland teachers participated in a for-credit public event titled “WHITELANDIA.” I stopped by. I want to emphasize this was not a viewing of the film. The filmmaker screened a handful of short disconnected interviews and old 8 mm clips. The main focus of the meeting was an interactive panel discussion which focused on “White Privilege,” how it’s endemic in our society and how Oregon’s original goal of “establishing a white homeland,” (according to the event’s organizers) may well be at hand. Teachers received Professional Development Units (PDUs) towards maintaining their certification. The house was packed, with organizers forced to open the doors to the adjacent hallway to allow additional standing room.
Here is the announcement for the public event which was emailed. As a side note, it’s incredible to me the number of grammatical errors in the single paragraph announcement from a school system.
“Thursday, January 22, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., BESC – Whitelandia©
WHITELANDIA is a full-length documentary examining the history of state sanctioned discrimination against Black Americans in Oregon and how that discrimination continues to be a destructive force today. The film leaves us to speculate whether Oregon’s original goal of establishing a white homeland may well be close at hand. Participates (sic) will learn the purpose of creating the film, the connection and importance it has (sic) students education. There will be never publicly seen before snippets of the film along with a discussion with the panelist. (sic) “
Note how the announcement included no restrictions on filming the public event which was paid for by the taxpayer. This mysteriously changes as I arrive at the event and find a highlighted sign saying no filming will be allowed. Not just the copyrighted material: no filming, period! Here’s the highlighted add on:
“This lecture is open to the public but the presenter does not permit the audience to video or voice record the lecture or audience discussion. Attendees are free to take written notes.”
The Equity Director Lolenzo Po stops by to tell me this verbally. I politely insist this type of reporting is explicitly allowed by Oregon Law and that I’m exercising my First Amendment Rights. At this point I’m wondering, “what exactly is it these people have to hide?” What’s even more disconcerting is the “thug in a tie” that Po brings along with him as an enforcer. I use a “Ken Burns Effect” to zoom in. Let there be no doubt that I am feeling physically in danger at this point.
Thankfully, common sense prevails and I continue to film. The result is this Part I which is my cut at some of the more interesting, or egregious, clips.
Included in this batch of sound bites in order of appearance are:
– Tracy MacDonald Co-Producer and Director of the film WHITELANDIA
– Lolenzo Po, the Equity Director for Portland Public Schools
– Matt Zodrow, Co-Producer for WHITELANDIA and facilitator of the discussion
– Dr. Calvin Henry, Head Advisor for WHITELANDIA
– Carolyn Leonard, Retired PPS Administrator and “Community Activist” (who’s resume, according to the PPS web site, includes classes in Switzerland)
– Devin Williams, Associate Producer for the WHITELANDIA Documentary
– and an anonymous teacher who confirms that PPS instructors are getting class credit
Again this is 5 minutes in High Definition (HD). It’s Part 1 of multiple videos.