Damed if you are and damed if you’re not

I’d forgotten all about this post and was clearing out – but it chimed in light of what’s occurring currently and my latest article for RESONATE

I recently attended Crossing The Screen International Film Festival, my debut documentary Abandoned Adopted Here had been one of the official film selections.

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As is usual with these events if the filmmakers are present they participate in a brief Q&A session post-screening.

I get up to answer a few questions about the documentary. The usual stuff, how did you get involved, what was the thinking behind making the documentary, why this particular subject matter etc.
From the raised hands in the audience, the presenter picked out what appeared to me, to be a middle-aged lady.

Lady: Do you think it would be ok for me as white person to make a similar film about how I feel I don’t fit in?
Me: Why do you feel that it would not be “ok” for you to make such a film?
Lady: (Already mildly agitated) I’m sick of all this, people going on about how they are different – we’re all different! I’m sick of people judging me because I’m blond haired, blue eyed and speak well. I’m not rich, I speak well because I went to a good school, that’s not me but everybody judges and assumes. We’re all black you know. It’s been scientifically proven we all come from one mitochondrial DNA – EVE.
What do you think about that?! (Not allowing anyone to say anything and without seemingly to take breath)
Whining on about being different, being left out.
So what. I’m part Jewish, I’m part Scottish, I might even be part Chinese/
Presenter: Thank you for sharing your views but this is not the platform to use to express your personal opinions. We’re here today to talk about Lucy’s documentary.
Audience Member: Why are you being so disrespectful?
Lady: I’m/I saw my friend die in front of my he was killed by the NF, right there in front of me
Presenter: I’m sorry to hear that, but we’re going to have to conclude this now.*
The lady was exceedingly agitated and was becoming physical and in the end had to be gently escorted out. It was, not laughed off, but the usual inference that this Lady was suffering from mental health problems was intimated in the general comments.
I had to leave earlier than I had intended, due to the ongoing industrial action by Southern Rail employees (why oh why can’t Southern Rail just sit down and talk to its staff and sort this out – yes I know it’s not as simple as that, but it should be).
I couldn’t stop thinking about the “heckler” and why the Lady chose to kick off. Why she chose my film as a springboard from which to launch herself. It’s very easy for us to ignore abhorrent, distasteful or offensive behaviour by labelling the person as being mentally unsound or suffering from some form of mental illness.
Thinking about what this Lady was saying not just in the cinema but outside in the foyer afterward.
Lady: Good I like being disrespectful, I’ll say whatever I want, wherever I want, I’m sick of hearing about all these differences and how we should respect them**

This woman had a point to make (well several).
One that she felt more than passionate about. Being devil’s advocate I’ve been playing through the memory of the incident in my head.
That lady is no different to the thousands of white people up and down the UK, who feel as if they are being ignored. No one stops to worry about how she feels in modern day Britain. Everyone else (from this lady’s perspective) is too busy worrying about what the Black, Asian, and Ethnic minorities think. Worrying over refugees from other countries far away from her and her lived experience.
Now as a person of colour, one could take the view – welcome to my world this is how I’ve been made to feel all of my life. I deal with it on a day to day basis and actually until fairly recently the idea of speaking out about it was frankly a terrifying thought and the speaker would undoubtedly, at least have been shouted down, at worst physically silenced, with force.
The assertions that this Lady put forward, that she too was from a minority and what happened to a bunch Hong Kong transracial adoptees is happening to her and why can no one see that? It’s a stretch and on the face of it seems ludicrous. As a white person, as a westerner, you’re part of an old boys network, (you may not think you are but you are). A club that uses the rest of the globe and colonial past as the group bedrock.
The foundation upon which the 21st-century world has been built. Black, Asian, East Asian, Hispanic, Aboriginal people had no place in this world. In fact, one could say that this new era was built upon their backs and the dead corpses of the Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnics.

Who did what to whom in the past I cannot change as Anthony Lau in my documentary so eloquently expresses. But what I can do is look at what’s happening now and help to shape a better future.

The sadness is that people in the UK are feeling like they don’t belong in the country they were born in, that their parents were born in, that their grandparents were born in. But who is responsible for this, the government, the Western Eurocentric point of view? Britain’s lingering colonial attitudes towards those from different shores. The attitude and actions of many of those in the corridors of power, as if Britain still had an Empire.

Until we as a country truly embrace all of Britain’s citizens we will always be a fractured, dissatisfied society. Always looking to blame others for our own ills.

I think that my documentary as small as it is in the general wider scheme of things is an open door to talk to communicate with one another. To try understanding, and empathy. To see each other as human beings not as commodities, crutches or social props.

 

*|**This is a paraphrased recollection of the "conversation"
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