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Native American Perspectives on Race Offer a Chilling Reminder of the Country’s Violent Past — Watch

From the director of Sundance hit "American Promise" comes a powerful short documentary about Native American racial identity.

op docs ny times race native american


As the nation reels from the violence in Charlottesville and a disgraceful response from the White House, many Americans find themselves stunned at the outpouring of racism in our own backyards. But the United States has a long history with racism, right down to the very first colonizers. Native American identities and perspectives have been silenced for too long, as evidenced in this powerful short documentary, “A Conversation With Native Americans on Race.”

Much like Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” the film sets its subjects against a simple background, their words leading the narrative. Their pain is palpable as they discuss their Native identity and what it means to them, revealing the divisive practice of counting one’s Native blood, known as blood quantum. One interviewee relates this to the way purebred animals are discussed, another points to its hidden purpose of circumventing land preservation laws.

The short was directed by Michele Stephenson, director of 2013’s “American Promise,” with Joe Brewster. That film followed two African American boys, one of them the filmmakers’ son, over 12 years in the New York City school system. “American Promise” received a special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Emmy. Stephenson worked with the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning Op-Docs series from The New York Times.

Watch the moving short below:

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