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Independent Lens 'American Denial'

American Denial title over photograph of boy choosing between two dolls
Gordon Parks

Mon. Feb. 23  at 10pm on WKAR-HD 23.1 | American Denial sheds a unique light on the unconscious political and moral world of modern Americans.

(San Francisco, CA) – In 1938, the Carnegie Corporation commissioned Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal to begin his landmark study of race and inequality in the United States. His question: How could a people who cherish freedom and fairness also create such a racially oppressive society? Published in 1944, “An American Dilemma” was cited in the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America’s schools. Seventy years later, Myrdal’s question continues to challenge America –- how do we explain the disconnect between what we believe and what we practice in what some have called a “post-racial” America?

American Denial juxtaposes past and present, shifting from Myrdal’s investigation –- and his own personal struggle with denial — and current stories of racial injustice that are often overlooked in our national insistence on the preeminence of the ideals of liberty, justice, and equality.

Archival footage, newsreels, nightly news reports, and rare southern home movies
from the 30s and 40s thread through the story, as well as footage showing the surprising results
of psychological tests of racial attitudes.

Exploring “stop and frisk” practices, the incarceration crisis, and racially-patterned crime and poverty, the film features a wide array of historians, psychologists, and sociologists who offer expert insight and share their own personal, unsettling stories. The result is a unique and provocative film that challenges our assumptions about who we are and what we really believe.

More Chances to Watch
Wed. Feb. 26 at 4am on WKAR-HD
Thurs. Feb. 26 at 1am on WKAR World
Thurs. Feb. 26 at 9am on WKAR World
Thurs. Feb. 26 at 3pm on WKAR World
Sun. Mar. 1 at 4am on WKAR-HD


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