Two white friends try to talk about race

Let’s face it, a conversation about racism can easily make people uneasy. One of the main reasons may be that people are scared to say something they shouldn’t, or something that the other may find offensive. But as the world is opening up and shedding light on systematic racism, we all need look a little deeper in ourselves to find what we can improve on. But where do we start? In ‘A Phone Call From My Best Friend”, Alexander Christenson (This Always Happens) raises some interesting questions that anyone should ask themselves.

The starting point for me was a white character who observes herself having a racist thought, and what happens when she decides to not to ignore it. Reflecting on my own experiences as a white person, conversations like this are usually avoided. When they do happen, they so easily go off the rails. I wanted to show what this looks like, because I think the ways that racism perpetuates itself can often be extremely subtle or difficult to see. Furthermore, the affection we have for those we love can complicate things, resulting in the central issue getting swept under the rug. Scaled up, avoidant patterns like these create a massive barrier to progress.

For any white viewers, I would encourage you to record your inner reactions as you watch. What did you feel and when? Consider the characters. What do Chrissy and Madison want from each other? Where did things go wrong? Are they being truthful? Do you relate to them? Why or why not? Afterwards, consider sharing with a friend or family member.

My hope is that this film can serve as a tool to spark much needed conversations about racism. These are often difficult and messy, but making mistakes is okay. We don’t need to know everything. What’s important is that we stay engaged and don’t check out.