Dear Laemmle Fans,
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Why do we need to say that? Isn’t it clear to everyone that this is an accepted truth?
Sadly, the answer is no. If you truly look at our country today (never mind its history), it’s clear that American society does not value, love, or protect black lives to the same extent it does others. This is not a charge leveled at any one individual, institution, or even system. Rather it is something that we need to wrestle with as a whole nation.
There are those who say that we must have “law and order” before we can address the issue of systemic racism. First, I would argue that “law” and “order” are not one and the same. For too many, “order” represents a maintenance of the status quo. But given the historic and endemic inequities in our society, the last thing we should be aiming for is a maintenance of the current order.
Change is needed. And it is needed now!
As for the “law”, it should be clear that the “rule of law” is only applicable when justice is applied fairly and equally, not only by the police, but also by prosecutors, judges, and juries. When the law is enforced in a discriminatory manner, we should not be surprised when those who most disproportionately feel the brunt of that discrimination lose respect for the institutions that are charged with enforcing that law.
All should be afforded equal protection under the law, regardless of the color of their skin.
Justice must be blind. If it is not, it loses credibility, and that should be unacceptable to us all. If we truly wish to see love and justice flow like a mighty stream, then we must root out all discriminatory practices, by exploring meaningful ways to address the current situation, and to redress past wrongs.
Freedom of expression is a core American value. Here at Laemmle Theatres, we are a company that believes in the right to raise our voices in collective assembly and protest. That should be clear from the films that we play, films which help us learn more about how others live, love, and think. These stories help us see that there is more which unites us, than divides us, and we are proud to exhibit them.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do more.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at ways to further ensure that our programming choices remain diverse, democratic, and societally impactful. We’ll also be initiating conversations with local community leaders about how we can best engage underserved audiences, and help expose underrepresented populations to the liberating and creative joys of arthouse moviegoing and filmmaking.
While trying to fall asleep the other night, I watched John Ford’s classic western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The film is perhaps most famous for the memorable line, “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” It’s a great quote, but it reminds me that as much as we all want to believe in the goodness of our country, it’s time that we reassess some of the things that we take as fact.
There is a real danger to us all “when the legend becomes fact.”
Instead, we need to remove our blinders, check our privilege, and identify the hidden prejudices that we practice. Only then can we truly begin to understand what it feels like to stand in the shoes of those who have been victimized by racial discrimination. This reckoning is the first step in a long process that will, hopefully, lift our communities and inspire the collective humanity within us all.
I’m going to try to do that.
And I hope you’ll all join me in a sincere effort to make our country the “more perfect union” that our founders envisioned.
All the best,