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3 episodes - 56 minutes each, 2003, Produced by: California Newsreel, Executive Producer: Larry Adelman, Episode Producers: Christine Herbes-Sommers, Tracy Strain, Llewellyn Smith, Series Co-Producer: Jean Cheng An online FACILITATOR GUIDE is available for this title.
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Now available for a week long digital rental to individuals on Vimeo. ($2.99 per episode, $4.99 for the entire series).
The division of the world's peoples into distinct groups - "red," "black," "white" or "yellow" peoples - has became so deeply imbedded in our psyches, so widely accepted, many would promptly dismiss as crazy any suggestion of its falsity. Yet, that's exactly what this provocative, new three-hour series by California Newsreel claims. Race - The Power of an Illusion questions the very idea of race as innate biology, suggesting that a belief in inborn racial difference is no more sound than believing that the sun revolves around the earth.
Yet race still matters. Just because race doesn't exist in biology doesn't mean it isn't very real, helping shape life chances and opportunities.
Episode 1- The Difference Between Us examines the contemporary science - including genetics - that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.
Episode 2- The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as "natural."
Episode 3- The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions "make" race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.
By asking, What is this thing called 'race'?, a question so basic it is rarely asked, Race - The Power of an Illusion helps set the terms that any further discussion of race must first take into account. Ideal for human biology, anthropology, sociology, American history, American studies, and cultural studies.
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"By far the best documentary series on race of the last decade."
Troy Duster, former president, American Sociological Association
"This eye-opening look at why race is not biologically meaningful yet nonetheless very real needs to be seen by all scientists and the general public."
Donald Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief, SCIENCE
"One of the most honest and compelling documentary series I've ever seen on race and its impact on this nation's culture and politics, as well as on the economic status of nonwhite citizens."
Acel Moore, Philadelphia Inquirer
"A marvelously intelligent documentary. A timely reminder that social divisions are made, not inevitable."
Patricia Williams, The Nation
"Different from other discussions of race because it’s an argument made methodically and with evidence. That we are all ’created equal’ is both superficially true as political rhetoric, deeply true as scientific fact and manifestly ridiculous when one considers the financial, educational and social inequities of our society."
Philip Kennicott, Washington Post
"Illuminating and provocative. Race does matter - not as genetics - but as lived experience. Eloquently documented."
Annie Nakao, San Francisco Chronicle
"Insightful. Easy to watch, even entertaining as it educates. You will not see race the same way after watching the series."
Jerry Large, Seattle Times
"So why did RACE- The Power of an Illusion floor me? The show explains how contemporary science debunks old notions of race, how these ugly falsehoods evolved, and where race does live -- in institutions that disproportionately, and often invisibly, grant power and wealth to whites."
Donna Britt, Washington Post
"In this atmosphere of race doublespeak, RACE: The Power of an Illusion is one of the most important, sweeping and groundbreaking documentaries in recent memory."
Esther Iverem, BET.com
"This is deeply resonant material with the potential to make everyone who
watches it think in a new and fundamental way about society."