I watched the first two episodes of America to Me and read several articles and comments claiming it would be divisive and enflame racial tensions. 

So what’d I miss?! 

So far I’ve seen a documentary that simply humanizes what the weight of scholarly research has long demonstrated with empirical data; that implicit bias is pervasive in even the most well-meaning schools and has real consequences. That should come as a surprise to no one anywhere. 

Full transparency: I am a 41-year-old, white, male, cis-heteronormative lawyer who does not suffer from white guilt. I am not marginalized and do not regret the condition of my birth. My extremely hard-working, non-college-educated parents gave me everything. They believe the American Dream boils down to fairness — treat people fairly. And fairness has become my ethos. 

While I am not responsible for the sins of my forebears, I am responsible for charting a better path forward. We all have a responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives that add to the good of humanity. With that comes the recognition that everyone deserves dignity; that maximizing individual liberty and equality of opportunity expands our own agency and the quality of participatory democracy. 

This film does not throw stones. It simply audits what we’ve done, so we can identify where we are, to determine where we need to go. It audits the efforts of a community that wants to do better. It’s introspective; a conversation with ourselves. 

That is not something to be feared. It’s to be embraced. No one has ever improved without looking in the mirror.

Brian Holt 

Oak Park 

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