My only experience with film prior to making this documentary was watching too many movies and trying to make some shaky videos of my kids’ birthday parties. I didn’t set out to be a filmmaker. Rather, I have spent years in the classroom engaged in fascinating conversations with people who experienced a sudden awakening regarding the existence of privilege and oppression in their lives. This revelation usually included pain and sadness accompanied by a tendency to express, “how could I have lived so long without seeing…” I found it remarkable that they were asking these questions at all, that they were seeing things society tells us to ignore or deny. They examined their role in upholding systems of oppression while recognizing how they had been injured by oppression. Just having the conversation, naming oppression, describing it, telling their stories and hearing others, was in itself an act of working against oppression. I witnessed them turn from passive observers to active agents, becoming people who redefined themselves and discovered their agency to do something different.
I had a simple thought: “What would happen if we could share this conversation with everyone?” If others could see this, maybe even take part, would it inspire them to think about their own lives in this way? Could we make a dent in the norm that tells us to not talk about these “taboos” of race, religion, sex, and politics, and begin to form a new story of our relationship to oppression? Could more discover their voice and begin to use it?
Thus, I stumbled into making a film, and two years later my team and I had completed a documentary about anti-oppression. The disadvantage of being a rookie filmmaker is that I had no idea what I was getting into, but this also was an advantage in that I never knew the rules. So, I had no trouble breaking them. We realized somewhere along the way that this film is our stand against oppression, and we formed a community that still sustains us today.
If you’re interested in getting a glimpse into the craziness that exists inside my head, take a look at my Director’s Blog. Along with behind the scenes stories, I also share my misadventures teaching and engage in social justice. Want to ask a question or collaborate on a project? Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Shawn Patrick (Director) has been teaching, supervising, and counseling since 2002. Her expertise is in narrative therapy and couples work; her research examines power and privilege in complex community systems. She has taught several courses on multiculturalism and has developed teaching activities that promote social justice, creativity, and engagement in “difficult inter-cultural dialogues.” Along with being a mom, wife, and pet-servant, she dabbles in writing, music, film, and theater.
Beckenbach, J., Patrick, S., Sells, J., & Terrazas, L. (2014). The statement of us: A narrative-based practice for enhancing couples’ preferred identity. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 33(2), 50-61.
Beckenbach, J., Patrick, S., Carlino, G., Carlino, S., Gross, K., Einig, K., & Pyle, E. (2014). The Couples Enhancement Workshop: A brief approach for group work with couples. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 39(2), 164-182.
Patrick, S., & Connolly, C.M., (2013). The privilege project: A narrative approach for teaching social justice and multicultural awareness. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 32(1), 70-86.
Patrick, S., Beckenbach, J., Sells, J., & Reardon, R. (2013). An empirical investigation into justice, grace, and forgiveness: Paths to relationship satisfaction. The Family Journal. 21(2), 146-153.
Patrick, S., & Connolly, C. M. (2011). The token activity. In M. Pope, J. Pangelinan, & A. Coker (Eds.), Experiential Activities for Teaching Multicultural Counseling Classes and Infusing Cultural Diversity into Core Classes. (pp. 169-173). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Patrick, S. (2011). Contributor in Lee, M. W, Let’s get real: What people of color can’t say & whites won’t ask about racism. (pp. 21, 32,38, 43,51,71-72, 78, 84, 88, 101,102, 107-108, 128,136,137,139-140, 146,152, 156). Berkeley, CA: Stirfry Seminars and Consulting.
Patrick, S. J. (2010). Narrative approaches. In S. Degges-White and N. Davis (Eds.) Integrating the Expressive Arts into Theory-Based Counseling. (pp. 183-186). New York, NY: Springer.
Beckenbach, J., Patrick, S., & Sells, J. (2010). Relationship Conflict and Restoration Model: A preliminary exploration of concepts and therapeutic utility. Contemporary Family Therapy, 32(3), 290-301.