Photo Credit: PBS

Photo Credit: PBS

The Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum presented part one of the three series film, Race: The Power of an Illusion. They only screened Episode 1: “The difference between us.” The other parts of the film included are Episode 2: “The story we tell” and Episode 3: “The house we live in.” In continuation of the 150 anniversary of the civil war, the museum plans to showcase the remaining two episodes of the series in early 2015.

This film’s presentation was part of the civil rights seasonal events that were executed by the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum. The screening of this film was made in part by Marvin Arrington of Urban Film Review and the California NewsReel.

In the film, several diverse students participated in genetic sampling. This exercise was used to demonstrate to the students that we are not so different underneath the skin. The professor that lead the exercise asked the students who they thought they were most like in the genetic samples. Of course, each student predicted they would have similarities to another student of the same race.

The students were surprised by the results of their genetic samples. The students were surprised that the similarities were not within their own race, but within the other races. The students assumed that because they were a similar skin color then they would have identical results. In one Caucasian student’s case, he had a 100 percent identical match to an individual in Africa. Another student, with a Latino origin, had more resemblances with her Caucasian classmate than her Latino classmate.

According to the documentary, as a society, we are tempted to make perceptions based on skin color and other physical traits. The aim behind this film was to prompt the audience to question their definition and perceptions of race. How can we say that race is biological, when genetic sampling results prove otherwise?

Dr. Nasir Muhammad, historian and educator, led the audience in a discussion about their reactions to the film. The discussion was lively and thought provoking, which was the desired reaction towards the film.

“There is too much silence on the issue when it deals with race,” said Muhammad.

He believes that race is a concept based on social and economic class.

“Race was never important to humanity until individuals made it important to society.”

The audience was left to ask themselves if race is not biological then what is it really? The answer to this question is expected to surface with the release of Episodes 2 and 3.

You can join in on the discussion of race in the next screening of this film at the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum in early 2015.

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