Tackling Complex Issues Through Film and Discussion

This program year, IMPACT’s “Film and Discussion” series is focused on cross-racial solidarity. The purpose of each film we watch online together is to understand each other’s struggles, histories we haven’t been taught, and how the film topics connect to our pursuit of justice and liberation today.


On October 29th we screened the documentary Warrior Women about the American Indian Movement (AIM) of the 1970’s and the women leaders who shaped a generation of future activism.  The film focuses on the socio-political actions of Madonna Thunder Hawk a member of the Oohenumpa band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation.  The hour-long documentary tells a powerful story of Thunder Hawk’s advocacy on behalf of Indigenous People.  Perhaps the inspiration for her drive can be summed up in words she speaks early in the film:  “This country is built on the bones of our ancestors. We have our culture, we have our way of life, we have our language. What we’re trying to do is retain it, retain our right as a people to be Indian.”


Throughout the documentary we gain deeper understanding of Native American history that many of us may be only vaguely familiar with: stories of treaties with Indigenous People broken by the U.S. government, Indigenous children taken from their families and placed in boarding schools for assimilation, and the serial displacement of Indigenous People. The documentary also shares about less well-known (and in some cases, more current) history like the 1973 siege between federal officers and members of AIM at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Many of the injustices we learn about through the telling of Madonna Thunder Hawk’s  story mirror the violations and oppressions of other People of Color:  the broken promises of Reconstruction, internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, separation of children from their parents and guardians at the U.S./Mexico border, and over-policing of Black and Brown communities today. An important benefit of learning the histories of marginalized people is that it allows us to see patterns of injustice and the ways it shape-shifts.


We had 42 people join us for the online viewing of “Warrior Women,” many of whom stayed with us after the film to participate in a facilitated discussion.  IMPACT’s hope for these events is to hold a virtual space of shared learning and connection as well as to harvest community wisdom on what it takes to build true cross-racial solidarity.   One participant shared this nugget during the discussion: “While the oppressed may not share the same instances of trauma, we collectively share in having been traumatized.  We need continuous dialogue.  Discussing one’s own experience as a Person of Color, doesn’t diminish anyone else’s.”


We are capturing insights that emerge during post-film discussions hoping to apply collective wisdom to the complex challenge of building a healthy and whole cross-racial movement for justice.  We invite you to join us for our next film and discussion event in January.  Follow us on Facebook to get our latest updates on film announcements as they’re made.

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