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Movies: A Window into the House of Diversity

By: Calvin B. Ball, III

Often we are afraid, unwilling or unable to look outside of ourselves. For those of us who fall into the last category it can be frustrating trying to reach the destination of appreciation without transversing the roads of knowledge and awareness.

It is often easier to empathize with a culture when one is able to enter the culture without facades up because an ‘outsider’ is watching. We, the viewer, can peer through the window of another ‘house’ and see what we didn’t know we didn’t know about another culture. Although I do not suggest that by watching movies one can become an expert on the subtle idiosyncrasies of a culture, I do suggest that open-minded examination and empathy, without the burden of prejudice, can allow one to elevate awareness and subsequently grow closer to being influenced less by bias.

I have compiled a list of movies that speak to society in voices of diverse cultures. This list is by no means intended to be all encompassing or the finish. Instead this list is to scratch the surface and to be the start of a great journey.

Calvin’s Diversity Night at the Movies

American History XCocoon Gandhi
American MeThe Color PurpleGattaca
And the Band Played OnCrossing DelancyGlory
Autobiography of Miss Jane PittmanThe Crying GameThe Godfather
AvalonDances With WolvesHe Said, She Said
How Stella Got Her Groove BackDo the Right ThingBabe
Beaches Driving Miss Daisy Imitation of Life
Billy JackEl NorteThe Jazz Singer
Boys on the SideEuropa, EuropaThe Joy Luck Club
Bronx TaleEve’s BayouThe King and I
The Bruce Lee Story Fiddler on the RoofLa Bamba
Children of a Lesser GodFour Friends La Cage aux Folles
 A Chorus LineFried Green TomatoesLawrence of Arabia
Lean On MeOn Golden PondSophie’s Choice
Like Water for Chocolate The Other SisterSoul Food
Little Big ManA Patch of BlueStand and Deliver
Look Who’s Coming to DinnerParadiseTo Kill a Mockingbird
Malcolm XRainmanThe Wash
Mambo KingsRegarding HenryWaterdance
The Merchant of VeniceScent of a WomanThe Wedding Banquet
Mississippi MasalaSchindler’s ListWest Side Story
My Left Foot ShineWhite Man’s Burden
Never Cry WolfShogunYentl

 This list is a small piece of movie history. It is an excellent exercise for reflection on multiple dimensions of diversity woven throughout the same movie. Step beyond exclusively race or gender and be open to all of the other dimensions of diversity from age to education level to sexual orientation.

Any elucidations are greatly appreciated. Send them, and feedback will be carefully considered for upcoming lists. Calvin B. Ball, III is a Senior Principal with The Diversity Training Group and enjoys good movies.