Breaking Down The Wire

One Final Thought.
Talking television.
Oct. 2 2006 5:20 PM

Breaking Down The Wire



This is a conversation worth continuing. Just one final thought. There is one place where I think white writers and filmmakers too often come up short, and that's in dealing with the awkard, uncomfortable, and sometimes just plain ugly interplay between whites and blacks. Years back, I was asked to work on a documentary for ABC about race relations (talk about a broad mandate), and I had what I thought was this terrific idea: to look at race relations from the perspective of the congregation of a black middle-class church. The minister was an old friend, and I thought that would get us terrific access. Well, I failed miserably. Virtually everyone, as I certainly expected, had stories of how race intruded in their lives, but so much of their stories had to with the absence of any real connection to the white world. (It's astonishing how so much of the story of race in contemporary America is about the absence of connections.) And secondly, despite my friendship with the minister, people had a tough time being candid with me—because I was white. We abandoned the project midway through the filming. It's one of those instances where being an outsider may have only complicated matters—and, frankly, gotten in the way of getting at the truth of things. See you next week.

Alex Kotlowitz is author of There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River.


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