Film director and educator Shakti Butler, who serves as executive director of World Trust in Oakland, California, has strong opinions on the state of racial dialogue in America.
“The current conversation is not only shallow, but actually harmful. We continue to primarily focus on individuals, when institutional and structural inequities are the bigger problem. We live in a time when we cannot afford to squander our national treasure — the minds and hearts of people.” Shakti has experienced this type of squandered “treasure” in her own family. As a result of social taboos on interracial marriages, her Russian-Jewish grandfather passed away without even knowing that his mixed race granddaughter existed (Shakti is of African, Arawak Indian and Russian-Jewish decent).
“This whole idea of secrecy and not really being able to be forthcoming about race does explain why there are some behavior patterns that exist today.”
Her latest film, Cracking the Codes: Race and Relationships in the 21st Century, is a Kellogg Foundation-supported effort designed to illuminate the self-perpetuating systems of racial inequity and move individuals from inspiration to action. One of her goals in creating this film, which she describes as a “critical mass” of moving personal stories from the racial justice movement, is to foster conscious communication and intentional healing as part of a new vision of building racial equity. With a goal of reaching 30,000 – 50,000 people in classrooms and through faith-based organizations, a critical mass of conscious, engaged and inspired people is exactly what Shakti’s film will produce.