From the desk of Emmy | Almost there!

Sarah and I have been busy busy working on our film! We made a super rough cut and had Angulo take a look at it. Then we made another cut and sent it out to our advisory board. They provided us with very good feedback that allowed us to take some things out and add back other stuff we had originally cut. Then we made another rough cut and received more feedback from the board along with friends and family. And as I sit here and write this, Sarah and Jared are three feet away working on the intro to our film which is going to be way more amazing than I imagined.

Having said that, we haven’t kept up with our blog as much as we would have liked this past week, as our priorities have been more directed towards the details of the film – music, credits, fair use, color correction, timing, the flow and rhythm, and so much more. I know i’ve said it before, but making a film is a ton of work. A lot more goes into it than one imagines…I mean, I imagined a lot, but it’s a lot more. Ha!

We’re both nervous and excited to show you guys our final product…

Anyways, I have to go do producer stuff… Jared just asked if “Ms. Producer can look for stock footage of LA”…so I’m off to do that.

MAY 10TH! It’s going to be great!

From the Desk of Emmy | “Now you know what it feels like to be a minority”

If you have not watched it, Hasan Minhaj spoke at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last night, and killed it. One of the moments that really spoke out to me though came at the end, when he talks about the journalists, and how they need to work twice as hard these days to prove themselves. He says “Now you know what it feels like to be a minority…” and I feel like this is an idea and topic that came up in some of the stories Sarah and I heard from the pairs we interviewed – this idea that people say some of the black people are the “good ones” or how they have to prove themselves…

Anyways, I’ve included the clip of the moment where he talks about minorities below, but even further down I have included the entire monologue.

Also, comedian and political gadfly W. Kamau Bell returns with season 2 of “United Shades of America” tonight, and you can follow him as he explores the far corners of our country and its various groups and subcultures. I’m excited to watch because I saw a trailer for it where a man says he wants to “bathe in his white privilege”…which is a word we discussed with our pairs. I’ve included the clip that caught my eye below as well…I seriously just want to punch Mr. Spencer after watching it and am excited but scared to see how this goes this evening.

Below is the full monologue

From the Desk of Emmy | Anticipation

Sarah and I are currently in post production, and cannot wait to share these stories with everyone.

We appreciate every person who allowed us to interview them, and were touched by their generosity to share their experiences and thoughts with us and our audience. Seriously, their profound words have inspired us and encouraged us, and we cannot thank them enough. We are so appreciative and grateful beyond words.

Having said that, editing is F*$&^%ing hard. It is tremendously hard to take these hours of amazing experiences and stories that have been shared and cut it down to only 15 minutes. I really wish we had more time, because I believe anyone can gain something, whether it be insight, empathy, compassion, knowledge, from listening to what everyone had to say.

Sarah and I really want to make something great! We’re hoping that when the audience walks away from the theatre after having seen all 7 student films on May 10th, ours is a film that they will remember, and have discussions with friends and family about later. Discussions about what we can do to make this world a better place, to work against the systematic racism that exists, and to really embrace everyone and their experiences.

I want to write more, but I don’t want to give away too much of our film, which I know I will do if I continue to share.

Editing is hard.

Sarah and I are going to do it.

We’re going to make something great.

We are going to make people hear.

And we cannot wait to share it with you!gratitude2

From the Desk of Emmy | Reality Check

One of the things that has come up in both interviewing people for this documentary and telling people about our project is this idea of how people of color are treated by the police. Every single black person we interviewed had a story to share about an experience they had with the police, and how they felt they had been treated differently because of their skin color. From what I heard of their stories, I wouldn’t doubt that any of them was treated differently, unfairly because of their skin color.

I don’t really have a good transitioning point here, but a topic that has come up for me many times while making this documentary – pre, during, and post production – is the fact that parents of color are having to have conversations with their children about what to do when dealing with the police. Some of my friends shared how their parents had to have the conversation with them when they were growing up. My one friend who is black said that his mom started that conversation with him when he was young, telling him that he “will be treated differently because of your skin color,” by the police. One the families I nanny for – the dad was sharing how his co-worker told him how he had to have the conversation with his son after the various shootings shared on the media. They both have sons who are in elementary school, and we discussed how sad it is that his co-worker had to have that conversation with his son because it is a matter of life or death, while if and when he has that conversation with his son, it will be a matter of ticket or no ticket, or the amount of the fine attached to the ticket.

I have so many thoughts on this topic, but mostly just how sad and disheartening it is that we live in a world where these conversations must happen. And I’m not saying that it is sad that parents feel that they need to have these conversations with their children, I think it’s sad that parents of color really do not have a choice if they have these conversations with their children if it means saving their kids’ lives.

I honestly could go on and on about this topic. I could argue for hours with people who want to say that some of the police brutality and shootings of people of color were justified, that those officers were doing everything right, and that this happens to white people all the time too. Yes, it does happen to white people, but not at the same rates it is happening to black people. Black people are being shot with guns. White people are being put in handcuffs. There is a different experience. There is a difference in how people are treated by the cops based on their skin color. And if you think that doesn’t really happen, that that’s not how it works, then you’re sitting in a place of privilege already, honey.

PS: Since Sarah added a video to her post, I thought I would add one too since this is consistently in my mind while writing this post…

Thoughts by Sarah

Yesterday I was working with a precocious 17-year-old Mexican-American boy. He spoke about his hurt and his worries. He spoke about genetic engineering in the dystopian book he is reading. He spoke about wishing he could give his future children light eyes and white skin because it would make their lives easier.

From the Desk of Emmy | Armenglish

As many of you know, before I started grad school, I was a full-time nanny. Leaving full-time nannying and making more than enough money to start grad school where I would ultimately become poor and rely on assistance from my mom – something I haven’t done in over 5 years since my dad died – was really a hard transition for me. I went from being totally independent, being able to pay my rent, bills, take myself out to dinner, get my nails done, and have somewhat of a disposable income left over to being the 27 year old who had to basically live on an allowance from my mom gave to me at the beginning of the month the pay for pretty much rent, bills, and maybe one or two dinners out.

Thankfully, the families I worked for are like family to me, and while I was not able to work for them full-time anymore, they knew I still wanted/needed to earn some money to stay afloat. Thus, in addition to watching their kiddos for date nights, they asked if they could give my number to other families who may need my “baby whispering” skills on the weekends so I could earn some extra cash. Um, OF COURSE…have you seen my tuition costs? Anything and everything will help! Side note: The baby whispering thing – their words, not mine. Along with “Emmy’s amazing with kids!”…so, if any of you out there reading this need a date night, you know how to reach me 😉

Anyways, I started babysitting for another family on the weekends for date nights. They’re an Armenian couple with a 4 year-old girl and 7 year-old boy. Mom graduated as a Bruin (Boo) and Dad graduated as a Trojan (WootWoot!), and their kids go to Armenian schools. I’m not afraid to say that I really were not many Armenian people where I grew up in NorCal, and honestly really wasn’t aware that there were Armenian people in CA other than the Kardashians. I don’t think I even realized that the few Armenians I went to school with in high school were even Armenian, and ignorantly just would have described them as Middle Eastern if you had asked. I don’t know a ton about the Armenian culture and community other than what I have been exposed to in LA the last 5 years. I’ve heard some stereotypes and generalizations. I had an old coworker who told me about her outrageous Armenian family (again, her words, not mine). But working for a full Armenian family was going to be a new experience for me, and even though I was told they were “the good Armenians and not the crazy ones” I still didn’t know what that really meant.

Little girl sometimes will forget that I don’t speak Armenian and will tell me something or ask me something in Armenglish, to which we will then either laugh, try and figure out what the words are in English, or go ask her brother. It’s actually sometimes very entertaining, but also educational and humbling as well to have a 4 year-old teach me some new words. She will ask for a snack or some sort of food occasionally, and when I don’t know what it is, she will point to it, and sometimes make me try it.

In addition to me learning Armenian words, I ask a ton of questions about their family and culture and traditions and foods. Initially, they thought it was weird that I was asking them such questions. However, as the school year has passed and I’ve watched them more and I’ve continued to ask questions, they’ve started to think it’s cool that I’m so much older than them (their words, not mine) and that they can teach me things. At Christmas, they thought it was cool that they could tell me about Armenian Christmas and what they do. But then there are other times when I get a little eye-roll or smirk over what they think is dumb questions. Like last weekend, when I asked if their family celebrates Easter or does anything special for it, I got a weird look and the response, “Um, of course we celebrate Easter! And we do what everyone else does I think – we go to our grandma’s and we have an Easter egg hunt. Isn’t that what people do on Easter?”  Duh, Emmy!

I guess my point in all this goes back to that conversation we had about diversity in my class last week. We need to stop pretending we know about other’s culture, race, traditions, and what not. Not that I’m trying to toot my own horn, but we need to embrace these opportunities for learning, and ask the questions EVEN if it means asking a child or that you may get an eye-roll. It’s better to ask than to assume. It’s better to listen to what someone has to say about themselves than to tell them what you think you know. Don’t be afraid to ask, and then use your EARS TO HEAR.

Seeing ~ Thoughts by Sarah


It happened again today. That moment when I see something that has been true for years but I never saw before. Today it came in the form of a trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s next film Detroit. It has happened before watching dash cam footage online, or expert panels at school, or the eyes of my non-white friends telling a story. One moment I am going about my day and the next I see it. I see race.

A black friend of mine told me once that race is always there. But I’m a white woman raised in the 80’s who was spoon fed cornflakes of the American Dream. I cried when I read To Kill a Mockingbird, but that was a story about an awful past. Racism existed only on Phil Donahue and Jerry Springer episodes. And that is how it stayed for twenty years. I lived in New York City and rode the subways pressed up against people of all ethnicities, and while I saw color, I was blind to race. I was too content humming to The Shins on my ipod to notice how society might make any given day harder on my traveling companions because their skin was a different shade than mine.

And then Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, MI and a month later I started social work school in the town of Rodney King and OJ Simpson. That was the first time I thought about the rebellious white kids in high school being shot instead of escorted home to Mom for a grounding. That was the first time that I realized the difference was race.

Since then I have tried to surround myself with people, opportunities, words and ideas to show me race. I wanted to see it because I realized that by not seeing it I was another fooled white person sitting at Tom Robinson’s sentencing.

But still today, watching pieces of a film about the 1967 civil unrest in Detroit, I was watching a history I had never been taught. I did not know it because the citizens impacted were not white. And being a white American never makes us see. We have to go looking. The film Emmy and I are making is about this looking.

From the set ~ Thoughts by Sarah

This past Saturday was our final shooting day. Below are a few pictures of some of our interviews. To echo Emmy point in the previous post, it has been a profound experience engaging and facilitating these conversations. I has so many of my own ideas about inter-racial relationships going into this process from reading and research, but the ten individuals we talked to taught me more than my own contemplations ever could have.

Looking back at these pictures is making me a little emotional. It may be the lack of sleep of a graduate student, but I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the time I got to spend with these folks. There has been so much generosity in this process from sharing personal stories, to hosting us in homes, to the offering of time and talents, to the monetary funding some of you have offered. Thank you.

And now Emmy and I head off to the editing room to try to stuff all this humanity into a fifteen minute package tied up with string. Wish us well, bring us coffee, say a prayer if you are a person who does. This will be the hard part!