03/21/03
"No More Lies"
    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

You're hearing the crucial lines from a French film, "Mama, Regarde!" -- or, "Mommy, Look!" -- directed by Paul Bougenat. Here's the story up to this point: a point, perhaps seven or eight -- cute kid with spikey hair is walking around a supermarket while his mother is "multi-tasking" -- weighing tomatoes, picking out pasta, handling a serious phone call on her cell phone. Meanwhile, the boy is literally bumped into a young Afro-French woman who is also shopping. He tries to point out this young woman to his mother. But she is too preoccupied to look quickly enough before the young woman turns the corner and disappears into the next aisle. Finally, all three find themselves next to each other at the cheese counter, when the boy tugs on his mother's trench coat sleeve and says, "Mommie, look. Look at the lady." We don't know what he's going to say next, and the two women look hesitantly and nervously at each other. Then the little boy says, with awe, "Look at how beautiful she is!" The icey frisson of anticipation melts instantly. The women smile warmly at each other, and everyone leaves the encounter enlivened, bouyant. The child, we're relieved to see, has been the agent of change, the one who builds bridges. This small gem is part of a twelve-film series supported by the major French television networks and the Ministry of Education. It's called "Pas d'Histoires!" or "No More Stories!" twelve looks at everyday racism. In another film, Cyrano, a teenage girl is receiving letters from an anonymous admirer. She reads them ecstatically to her girlfriend over the phone. After assuring her that he has only the best intentions, he asks to meet her the next day at a student cafe. He will be carrying roses, he says. But when a smiling, dark-skinned young man with a big bouquet approaches her the next day at the cafe, our heroine brushes him away, thinking he is trying to sell her flowers. He lays the roses gently on the table, and withdraws, and we watch her face as it registers what she has said and done. And that's the point of these short fables. They are meant to provoke awareness of the many, often thoughtless ways that we perpetuate racism through our thoughts and actions. These may be short stories, but they all have the power of ancient parables that will stay with audiences, young and old, for a long time.

Copyright 2003 John Cech

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Tuesday, 25-Feb-2003 18:28:43 EST


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."