Movies/TV

Group encourages race relations talk through Crystal Lake screening of 'Racial Taboo'

Those behind an upcoming screening of the documentary “Racial Taboo” hope the film inspires continued conversation in McHenry County.

The 53-minute film, by Brian Grimm, will be shown at 6 p.m. March 9 in the Luecht Conference Center at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake. A donation of $5 is suggested at the door. Following the screening, those who attend are encouraged to take part in a discussion about the film, which covers the topic, “Does race still matter? Why black and white Americans have difficulty talking about race.”

Co-sponsored by Faithbridge and a newly formed group of seven area community leaders called Continuing the Conversation, the event grew out of a gathering after last year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, hosted by Faithbridge in Crystal Lake. Among them was 84-year-old Floyd Donley, who recently moved to Huntley and has helped host similar events throughout the country.

Donley knows the filmmaker and, inspired by his late wife, Connie – who had worked to improve race relations her entire life – has pushed for those of different backgrounds and cultures to not only become acquaintances, but friends.

“This is a tool to get people started talking,” he said. “It is not a film that makes people feel guilty, that makes people feel like they should have done more. … It leaves people with a feeling that this is an opportunity to improve race relations.”

Donley first was involved with a showing of the film in Paducah, Kentucky, about thee years ago after the death of his wife. Connie died in a car accident the morning before she and her husband had planned to meet with community leaders about ways to improve race relations. Later, the film was shown during an all-day seminar in her name. Regular meetings followed, and the concept spread to other cities, Donley said.

“Since [my wife] passed, I feel like now I’ve got to carry the torch myself,” Donley said of his efforts to improve race relations everywhere he goes. Family in Crystal Lake brought him to Huntley.

The film, as described on its website at www.racialtaboo.com, is “more than a movie, it’s a movement (and a good time)!” It is meant to make the discussion easier.

“When the subject of “race” comes up, many people choose to avoid it. As a result, it continues to be a taboo subject,” a description reads. “Most white people don’t bring it up with a black person because they fear the potential shame of having their prejudice revealed. Many black folks don’t want to bring up the subject because they don’t trust white folks to be honest about their beliefs or that this time will be any different than the past. As a result, we don’t know each other. … Racial Taboo events are working to change that in an innovative way using film, and it’s working.”

Like others involved, Laura McLuckie-Khandan of Faithbridge sees the need for more of this discussion in the McHenry County area.

“I feel that, and I’ve felt for a long time, that racial healing in this nation is our most vital and challenging issue,” she said.

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