For the third and final post on the PYRITE story here, I’m starting off from that final thought of post #2, where I mentioned that a few people have even asked me if the story in Pyrite is still relevant… if we aren’t post-racial now in America… if we haven’t moved on and everything is now “all good?” Granted, all the people who asked me those questions were white (there’s a LOL in there).
Charles Barkley released a book on racism in 2006 that was the fruit of a longtime project of his own. In an interview with Al Roker on the Today Show, Al asked Sir Charles if “there is no race problem anymore?” Barkley answered, “Only white people think racism doesn’t exist.”
If you look behind the gloss of the White House… if you look past the thin veneer we’ve painted over America here, you’ll see that things have most certainly progressed over the past twenty years, but you’ll also see that most of the same problems still exist. We have much work to do.
Indeed, part of Pyrite’s story involves a confrontation in a poorer neighborhood of Chicago, and it speaks heavily to the concept of fear in the city. Killings continually occur on Chicago’s South Side right now, and just before I left the city in late 2008, gang incidents were creeping all the way into the downtown area.
Over the past year or two the violence escalated off the charts, and it’s probably more of a hot button topic in the Chicago area than it’s been in my entire life.
I won’t go into it here, but in my opinion, Chicago is experiencing an inadvertent backlash from all of its horrific policies of yesteryear, the ones that fueled the racial divides in the city and kept progress at arm’s length.
The irony of our first black president coming from Chicago’s South Side is of such an epic proportion, I can’t even put it into words.
Remember, Chicago’s city of big shoulders stands tall as Martin Luther King’s biggest failure to stop racism. Watch the video linked into this post, from his march on Chicago’s Southwest Side, and you’ll feel the tension… you’ll wonder how King survived that day, how he even lived long enough to instead be tragically gunned down in Memphis (the entire video is worth watching, but jump to around 19:20 to see the exact march snippet). [SORRY, VIDEO IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE]
The Chicago area has served as a bastion of racism for decades now. Take a camera, journey to almost any Chicago suburb, and ask a resident how he/she would feel about taking a nice little trip, day or night, to Chicago’s South Side (we filmed some of Pyrite there by the way, multiple days).
You’ll still hear some of the same fear in their voices that I heard in my junior high school’s auditorium back in 1989, from those parents considering Proviso East as viable high school for their children. Post-racial? I hope we get there in my lifetime, but we aren’t there, and it’s a disservice to those suffering to walk blindly and to simply pretend that we are.
PYRITE’S RELEVANCE IN 2014 AND ONWARDS….
Don’t get me wrong… as PYRITE’s official release date hit merely weeks ago now, I am more than happy to reflect back on the progress we’ve made in America. I also know way too much to pretend that we’ve suddenly and completely bridged the divide.
What I’ve seen clearly appear over the past 10-20 years, however, is a greater divide than racial. It’s called poverty, and the American neighborhoods victimized by racism in the years leading up to it now experience perhaps a tougher existence than they ever have. We need to dig deep.
We need to reach out. And more than ever, we need to speak up.
Many of those neighborhoods lack the community they once had. There seems to be a battle between those who feel that sense of community within the neighborhood, and the neighbors who live in that same area who feel no sense of community – only a desire for chaos.
That needs to change, and it needs to change quickly.
Between the next project I’m working on, which I’ll describe briefly below, and the release of Pyrite, I’m putting a huge focus on the issue over the next few years, which includes public speaking on the subject, events at colleges and/or high schools, and just basically putting everything I possibly can into helping solve the key problems.
I’m also entering the fray on the Washington Redskins issue that’s been festering for years and may finally (and thankfully) be reaching a boiling point. Pyrite stands for something, and it’s certainly its own entity with its own place in time. But the real story behind why I made it in the first place serves to push things forward, positively, on the issues within the film. I didn’t make Pyrite to just make a film and move on.
With a project that difficult in nature, honestly we never would’ve completed the movie if that were the case. It required a deeper desire, and now that it’s complete and getting out there, the most important piece is front and center: bringing change.
My deep, personal belief is that change doesn’t come from politicians… it comes from the people that elect them. WE are the ones with the ability to make change happen, and we’ve witnessed that over and over again throughout human history — I think sometimes we just forget.
Help us Stop Racism!
Click Here to download your free copy of The 3 Steps to Fighting Everyday Racism, the first of Hollywood 27’s 10-Minute Guides to fighting racism.
WALK A MILE IN ANOTHER PERSON’S SHOES
Which brings me to the final part of this story, which is really all about the future. In early 2014, not long after the PYRITE DVD release, I’ll also be launching The Walk a Mile Project over at walkamileproject.com. It’s a long-term, multi-prong film project designed to find and deliver the TRUTH.
Yes, delivering the truth on the internet! How cool is that?! The Walk A Mile Project is essentially the end product of that fateful night back in 1989, when the media first introduced me to its lack of integrity. I think it’s fair to say that this project is the one I was put on earth to create… and I’m chomping at the bit to launch it and complete our first segment before Spring 2014.
So as I prepare to launch the new project, here’s one final word on truth and the media. Just in case you aren’t already aware, all of the mainstream media now falls under a handful of big conglomerates – all for-profit companies that control the vast majority of our journalism and broadcast journalism.
The truth stands as a sacred commodity here in the 21st century – caught between a mainstream media that only shows us what they want to show us, and an alternative media that has yet to discover true integrity in journalism. How many times have you read something online and asked yourself, “Wow, I wish I knew how much of this were true?”
We’re caught between a rock and a hard place, and The Walk A Mile Project won’t just be a partial answer – it will begin a movement to a new paradigm in media. We’ll make certain of it.
We’re bringing a laser focus to the most important issues of our time, starting with one of the biggest concerns facing nearly the entire planet right now – our food supply. But we’ll also be branching off into other areas of concern, and fighting racism will always, always, ALWAYS be steadfastly on our radar, until the day arrives where we, as humanity, are truly past it.
As we prepare to launch the project, we’ll be giving away very limited FREE LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTIONS with the purchase of a PYRITE DVD/CD bundle.
It’s probably one of the biggest win-wins you’ll ever find in the independent film world, as for less than $25 you score a copy of our ambitious indie urban drama, its soundtrack, a free Walk A Mile Project lifetime subscription that’s worth over $100, AND you support the filmmakers that are working tirelessly to bring us all a better world. It’s time, and I hope you will join the conversation.
You can learn more about The Walk A Mile Project here: https://walkamileproject.com
And click here to sign up for Hollywood 27 emails so you’re invited to the exclusive Lifetime Subscription offer which will be coming in late August/early September 2014.
Thanks for reading through all these pages of the Pyrite story! If you have any questions or are just looking to help, contact us anytime here, and please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and continue the discussion.