Campus screenings educate through entertainment

by Ellen Rossow

rossowel@mnstate.edu

In recent weeks, MSUM organizations have used movie screenings as opportunities to share messages — and we’re not talking old-school educational films.

On Nov. 18, the MSUM Black Student Union shared “Dear White People.” The satirical story follows black American students at a predominantly white, Ivy League school. The main protagonist, Sam, runs a radio show by the title name and uses it to expose the wrongdoings of racist white folks at her school.

“Racism describes systematic advantage based on race,” she explains in the trailer. “Black people can’t be racist, since we don’t stand to benefit from such a system.”

While the film is satirical, BSU president Lexi Byler said “Dear White People” serves as a reflection of MSUM.

“We decided to screen that movie specifically because the plot reminded us of ourselves — black students’ experiences at a predominately white university,” she said.

Byler said recent events throughout the nation prompted the BSU to share the film.

“The movie was relatable and touched on current event issues similar to what we’re seeing happen at Yale and Mizzou,” she said.

Following the screening, Byler and fellow movie-goers made time for discussion about the film’s important topics.

“The movie is a satire, but successfully touched on important issues and opened up a dialogue about racism, especially institutionalized racism,” she said.

Similarly, on Nov. 17, the Office of Student Activities, in conjunction with the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, hosted two screenings of the film “The Mask You Live In.” The documentary discusses notions of masculinity.

“This event is about sparking a community conversation around masculinity and how young men and boys navigate the narrow definition of what it means to be a man, while staying true to themselves,” the Facebook event for the screening read. “The documentary presents the personal narratives of young boys and men and features experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education and media, further exploring how gender stereotypes are interconnected with race, class and circumstance.”

After the screenings, a panel discussion pondered the film’s content. Though not directly related, the film followed the theme of the It’s On Us MSUM initiative, offering students a way to “get educated” about gender and sexuality.

More opportunities for film screenings can be found often around campus from varying student organizations.

The BSU plans to screen “Straight Outta Compton” in February as part of Black History Month events.

For more information about the OSA or the BSU, or to keep up with their events, find them on Facebook.

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