Serving the Film and Television Industry in New England
(This is a copy of email my wife sent to the president, editors and a writer from the Westbrook, Maine paper the American Journal. Have yet to receive a response). Please read:
Four weeks ago we were contacted by American Journal writer Mike Higgins in response to a press release we sent you regarding Ahura Z. Diliiza, a Westbrook resident and business owner of 6 years, and his current feature film project which involved filming a scene at Willowbrook Museum Village in Newfield. We received a response asking for "help with a Q&A introducing Ahura Diliiza to our readers". We responded, emailing his answers on June 4, before the requested deadline of June 5. We were surprised not to see the interview published that week but waited, figuring it would be published the following week. The following week it still had not been published so I contacted writer Mike Higgins to inquire. I was told it was being held for space and that it "should run in the next two weeks". It is now week two from that correspondence; four weeks since we submitted the requested information and still no interview published. I wonder, do you actually intend to publish his interview, or was that response merely a brush-off hoping we would forget about it? Is it possible it had something to do with the photo of Ahura we sent along with the interview answers?
Rarely in our state's media are there any positive articles involving ethnic men. Here is a local man, not the usual-looking Mainer by far, doing something interesting, something positive, something newsworthy even (truly, how many filmmakers do you even know of in your coverage area? how many who look like Ahura?) and it takes over a month to publish the interview that was requested? Racist actions are not always obtuse, sometimes they are oblique, such as the simple avoidance of showing an ethnic man in a positive light. How many other people had to wait more than 4 weeks to see their interviews published due to "space constraints"? The UNE teacher in this week's issue for example, how long did he wait to see the article published about his new book about ballparks? I understand that not all people are (knowingly, outwardly) racist, however neglecting to publish a positive article about an ethnic man in your community when you have the opportunity to simply perpetuates this issue.
As white people we are able to take for granted that we will never be discriminated against for the color of our skin. Until we become close to someone who is of a different race and are able to see it first-hand it is hard to understand the many and varied nuances of racism, however subtle they may first appear to us. Having been married to a man of a different race than me for over 10 years I have seen and experienced aspects of racism I never dreamed existed--some even originating from within myself! If you are not close to someone who lives with it daily it takes someone who understands both sides to speak up and help you see it. I would hope that as editors and writers you would take a serious look at how the things you publish (and don't publish) affect your readership.
Do you agree? Write to the American Journal and let them know how you feel, don't let these things go!