Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America

Directed by Emily Kunstler & Sarah Kunstler
U.S | 2020 | Documentary
117 minutes | English

Directed by Sarah and Emily Kunstler — who previously helmed the well-received “William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe,” about their famous father — “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” features a multimedia performance on the history of American racism by ACLU deputy legal director Jeffrey Robinson as its centerpiece. In that sense, it’s a formal variant on “An Inconvenient Truth,” but the film doesn’t stay confined to Broadway’s Town Hall — though this material is highly effective — instead venturing out into the wider world, from a hanging tree in Charleston, S.C., to a walking tour of the origins of slavery in Colonial New York, to the site of a 1947 lynching in rural Alabama. Using archival material, vérité footage, and interviews with Black change-makers and eyewitnesses to history, the film brings history to life, exploring the enduring legacy of White supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it. Robinson shows how legalized discrimination and state-sanctioned brutality, murder, dispossession, and disenfranchisement continued long after slavery ended, profoundly impeding Black Americans’ ability to create and accumulate wealth and to gain access to jobs, housing, education, and healthcare. The film also poignantly traces the Robinson family’s illustrative personal journey, particularly their experiences while attempting to purchase a home in a White neighborhood. With heartbreak, humor, passion, and rage, “Who We Are” offers a potent distillation of the key ingredients in America’s racist brew, and Robinson serves as an appealing, charismatic guide to Black life past and present.