Storytelling to End Racial Profiling

By Coty Lovelady, 2012 GLIDE Emerging Leader

Every Wednesday, a group of folks dedicated to ending racial profiling meets in GLIDE’s Freedom Hall. GLIDE’s Witness Team’s mission is to help bring awareness to and end racial profiling.

At a recent meeting they participated in a workshop that utilized social media to capture their experiences with racial profiling. The workshop was led by Edward Schlesinger, member of GLIDE’s Witness Team. Edward partnered with Taylor James to educate Witness Team members and empower them with the tools to tell their stories of racial profiling. As a team, they worked on filming video project to tell help illustrate their mission. The participants learned and executed the video editing process, gaining the skills needed to create a short video.

I sat down with Edward to learn a bit more about how to use storytelling to increase awareness around racial profiling.

How did you come to GLIDE? I was first taken to a GLIDE Sunday Celebration by the writer and poet Gabrielle Glancy when I was a student of hers in 1993.  The experience stayed with me for many years.  When I returned to the Bay Area in 2005, I found my way back and became a member.

How can the process of storytelling bring awareness to and help eliminate racial profiling? When I watch the videos and hear the stories of what people have experienced, “racial profiling” stops being abstract words and becomes very real. The only way to stop racial profiling and its consequences is with awareness – to see people not as labels but as humans, to know truths and not be misled by myths.

In every instance of genocide – the Holocaust, Rwanda – the perpetrators of violence saw people as objects, not as humans.  It is this blindness that allows a man to put another into a gas chamber, or to use a sword to kill and maim.  It is the same blindness that allows a man to pull the trigger on a boy.

In the charged political society of America, we need to see the truth so we don’t walk blind through the world.  These stories are one way to see another’s truth.

GLIDE Witness Team works on video project

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