Diversity Film Series: Become Indifferent to Differences
By Kristen Santarin
We live in a world that is made up of various characters, each person with a background and identity unique to them alone. No two people on the planet are the same. We each carry differences that shape us into who we are as individuals. Unfortunately, we also live in a world where these differences are often viewed in an unbalanced favor: some traits are viewed as pleasant, some are ignored, and some are misunderstood. We reside in a toxic society that singles out the few “unlikeable” differences people have and uses them as a way to negate entire personas. However, diversity is unavoidable. In our lifetimes, we encounter diversity on a daily basis in our peers, in our friends, and in ourselves. As members of this world, it is critical that we choose to make active steps to create an inclusive society that allows differences to be acknowledged in a respectful manner. We are responsible for whether or not our differences are heard of and understood or criticized and shamed. And though this may seem like an arduous, overly ambitious, what-are-you-thinking-I-can’t-fix-an-entire-society-myself task, remind yourself that not all proactive choices have to benefit the entire world and can be just as helpful on a local community level. When opportunities close to home arise to practice inclusiveness, it is important that people, including you, a member of the upcoming generation, participate and work towards creating a communal society that accepts diversity as merely a beautiful aspect of life.
Lucky for us, such an opportunity has come up in our own city. For the first time ever, the city of Edmonds’ Diversity Commission is hosting a Diversity Film Series. On the third Saturdays of every month, with the exclusion of December, through October until April, the Edmonds Movie Theater is screening free showings of films that involve diversity, inclusion, and equity. This cinematic project is a huge progressive step for the city as this is one of the first instances where Edmonds is actively embracing common differences through a public display. Not only do these films provide a sense of understanding about various types of people in our world, but they also allow a chance for viewers to see their own differences represented on a big screen.
As students of Edmonds Woodway, we get to pass through hallways sprinkled with posters advertising the various diversity embracing clubs in a school populated by a multitude of religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Though there is always room for improvement, our school sufficiently supplies outlets for students to promote their differences in a positive way. However for some, diversity inclusion stops past the school’s walls. The prospect of feeling understood on a regular basis is foreign. Not more than small glimpses of inclusion and representation of differences is a part of their surrounding worlds. With the Diversity Film Series, it is evident that the local community wants to initiate the breaking of these barriers. It is a start to being able to feel comfortable with our differences not only inside the school but out in the city as well.
In a recently conducted survey of Edmonds Woodway students, the opinions gathered express our community’s need for movements such as the Diversity Film Series. A miniscule 4.5% never feel as if they are different in comparison to the 95.5% of students who feel ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and appearance contribute to their differences. Yet with this diversity, only 9.1% feel as if these differences are acknowledged, understood, and represented. Additional questions on the survey reveal that nearly 3 out of 4 students feel insecure about what makes them different and would like to see representation of these differences.
The Diversity Film Series aims to solve such problems through movies that promote inclusion to the audience. With these films, the Edmonds Diversity Commission is openly inviting the common citizen to take time out of a Saturday afternoon and embark on a thought provoking cinematic experience on equality and diverse inclusion. To the 59.1% of students who felt there is not enough diverse representation in the school and local community, our school’s city is offering us a chance to see the journeys of people with differences like ours. To the 50% who responded as feeling different due to their appearance, these free films do not showcase Hollywood’s most beautiful and famed actors, but real people in real documentaries facing real life. To the 100% of students surveyed who have not yet attended any of the showings, these movies will cost you nothing but time on a Saturday and provide you with inspiration to feel comfortable in your own skin. Join the mix of Edmonds citizens with an urge to better understand the people of our world and widen your perspective. Become indifferent to others’ differences.
For more information on the Diversity Film Series, read previous article “A New Diversity Film Series in Edmonds” or visit http://www.edmondswa.gov/diversity-film-series.html.