Reopening in person with Award-Winning Shorts touching on Title IX

Title IX, enacted 50 years ago, is a 37-word snippet tucked into the Educational Amendments of 1972: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  It is no exaggeration to say that those 37 words led to a revolution in women’s education – from middle school shop to graduate school admissions — nowhere more visible than in women’s sports.

Lucy Harris won two national championships in college and a silver medal in the Olympics.
She would not have played past high school had Title IX not been the law.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series will return to in-person screenings this November with two award-winning short films that trace both the drama of the law’s passage, and the effect it had on athletes: Mink! and Almost Famous: The Queen of Basketball. Both films were directed by Canadian filmmaker Ben Proudfoot, a multiple Oscar nominee for his documentary shorts, who won in 2022 for The Queen of Basketball.

Mink! focuses on Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress, who faces racial and gender discrimination at every stage of her career. The film begins with Mink’s daughter’s words: “The future of equality in some large way was on the table that day when the personal and political collided,” setting up the drama that is the film’s centerpiece. Director Proudfoot recounts learning about the history of Title IX, and the formidable campaign to dilute or erode the law. The film portrays Mink’s compelling fight to save the crucial language, and how it almost lost for lack of a single vote – her own.

Almost Famous: The Queen of Basketball is a similarly inspiring short film, about a remarkable athlete who came of age just after Title IX was passed. Lucy Harris was arguably the greatest women’s basketball player: she won three national trophies; she played in the ‘76 Olympics; and she was drafted to the NBA. None of that would have happened without Title IX. But have you ever heard of her? Her story is told in her own endearing words. Almost Famous: The Queen of Basketball was executive produced by Steph Curry and Shaquille O’Neal. Both short films will be shown IN-PERSON on November 3 in Piedmont. Following the films, Chelle Putzer and Eva Phalen, from Piedmont’s Recreation Department, will speak about their personal experiences, their efforts to bring equality to girls’ sports, and the effect of Title IX on women’s sports today.

As ever, the screening and discussion are FREE. Masks will be required to help ensure the safety of our audiences.

  • What: FREE Screening of The Queen of Basketball & Mink! and conversation with Chelle Putzer and Eva Phalen from Piedmont’s Recreation Department about the effect of Title IX on girls’ sports today.
  • When: Thursday, November 3, from 7 – 9 PM
  • Where: Ellen Driscoll Theater, 325 Highland Ave, Piedmont (masks required)

Eye-Opening and Timely Film documents History of Medicare and Civil Rights

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is proud to present The Power to Heal: Medicare and the Civil Rights Revolution, with guest speaker, acclaimed Dr. Neil Powe on Zoom May 5, from 6-7 pm.

The documentary remains shockingly timely nearly sixty years after Medicare was signed into law. Two years into the current pandemic, for example, CDC data reveals that African Americans and Hispanic people are at higher risk for illness and death than White people.

“A moving story of the twin fights for racial justice and health care, and how they intersect. This is an important film because the struggles for racial justice and access to health care continue.”

Alan Goodman, Past President, American Anthropological Association

The hour-long documentary moves briskly from the history of segregated hospitals and a brief summary of civil rights activism to the internal workings of the federal government that led to integrated hospitals and African American access to health care. It narrates the early days of health inequity, powerfully demonstrating how race and poverty denied African Americans equal access to healthcare. Moving interviews reveal personal experiences of African Americans’ struggles with illness and death without adequate healthcare. The film transitions from these individual stories to a broader review of disparities in hospital care throughout the United States. Physicians, civil rights leaders, and historians recount the dangerous tasks of documenting egregious incidents, tracking down patients, and the risks of blacks and whites working together to put desegregated structures in place.

Public healthcare professionals agree: “Power to Heal has a critically important yet previously untold story to tell. And it does so in a way that is both painstakingly accurate and profoundly moving. The range of historical film footage and interviews is remarkable.”

Paula Braveman, Professor, Family and Community Medicine; Director, Center on Social Disparities in Health, UCSF

After the virtual screening, viewers will hear from Dr. Neil Powe, an acclaimed leader in Public Health and the ongoing effort to correct healthcare disparities. Dr. Powe is a Harvard-trained physician, Professor of Medicine and Vice-Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, and Chief of Medicine at the Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Viewers will be fortunate to hear from him about the history and current day status of healthcare, and be able to ask him questions as well.

“This is a must see. It’s riveting from start to finish.”

Michele Goodwin, U.c. Irvine

Register for a link to stream The Power to Heal FREE, and for the conversation on zoom with Dr. Neil Powe from 6-7 PM on Thursday, May 5. The streaming link for The Power to Heal will be active from May 2-5.

ACLU’s Matt Cagle Speaks on Coded Bias

On March 24, the Appreciating Diversity Film Series hosted a discussion with attorney Matt Cagle, a Technology and Civil Liberties specialist with the Northern California ACLU. Cagle and ADFS’s Denise Bostrom discussed Coded Bias, the acclaimed documentary film directed by Shalini Kantayya.

You can see a recording of their conversation here: https://youtu.be/k8p-OINxtzk

And learn more about the issues presented from the ACLU Northern California website here: https://www.aclunc.org/home, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation here: https://www.eff.org/

ADFS to stream and discuss CODED BIAS in March

“The Most Important Film About AI You Can Watch Today”

Janus Rose, Vice

Computer scientist Joy Buolamwini opens the Sundance-acclaimed documentary Coded Bias by describing her excitement in working inside MIT’s Media Lab and having the opportunity to experiment with facial-recognition technology. In particular, she was looking for ways it might inspire users. One playful idea she had was to install the technology into a mirror, enabling it to reshape a reflected image back to the viewer.

FREE stream of Coded Bias March 18-27 plus
Conversation with ACLU Tech and Civil Liberties Attorney Matt Cagle 5-6 PM Thursday, March 24, on zoom.

However, when Ms. Buolamwini began working with the software, testing how it overlaid an image onto her face, she found it didn’t work well. The software wasn’t detecting her face in the computer’s camera. After running dozens of experiments with different images, Joy hit upon the idea of placing a white mask over her face. As a Black woman, she wondered if her skin color was not being recognized by the software. It turns out, she was correct. Moreover, the technology didn’t track women’s faces in general, no matter what skin-tone.

As programmed by primarily white, male computer scientists, artificial intelligence technology has been embedded with the bias of its programmers. The software is now used worldwide and is replacing millions of jobs once performed by humans. Now AI evaluates us in school admissions, job applications, loans and medical insurance. Despite its defects, facial recognition software is now used in surveillance programs by police, governments and private companies. AI’s automated decision-making has the unprecedented power disseminate bias at scale, as it becomes a powerful tool of social control.

ACLU Tech and Civil Rights Attorney

Matt Cagle to speak on Coded Bias on Zoom

5-6 pm March 24

Matt Cagle has spoken widely on ensuring that modern digital systems — be they private platforms or public projects — are publicly debated and implemented with equality and justice in mind. His work includes the use of surveillance technology by local police and the promotion of best practices for online platforms. He will speak and answers questions from 5-6 PM on Thursday, March 24, through Zoom.

  • Stream Coded Bias on Netflix, or FREE with link from March 18-27
  • Free Conversation with Matt Cagle on Zoom from 5-6 PM on Thursday, March 24.

The film reminds us that the algorithms themselves are a type of black box. Even computer scientists don’t know exactly how AI technology sifts through all its copious data, or makes decisions. Chillingly, no one knows exactly where these black boxes may lead.

“Coded Bias serves as both a wake-up call to invasive practices the public doesn’t yet realize are being implemented, and a call to action.”

— Variety, 5/17/2021

Wexler Illuminates Remedies to The Social Dilemma

Our most recent ADFS film was The Social Dilemma by Jeff Orlowski, a documentary that describes the serious, wide ranging damage being done by the algorithms used in most popular internet platforms.

May thirteenth Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler spoke with ADFS’s Anita Stapen specifically about the threats those algorithms already pose to democracy in America, and what might be done remedy them.

If you missed the webinar, you can view it here: ADFS conversation about The Social Dilemma with Rebecca Wexler.

For more information about the issues raised by The Social Dilemma, see the websites for both The Social Dilemma and the Center for Humane Technology, the organization that is deeply involved in working for remedies to the problems raised by the film.

Professor Wexler also made a number of specific suggestions for follow up:

Their conversation touched on many topics, from explaining algorithms — which Professor Wexler analogized to a recipe for bread making that has now become the bread making machine, where just what’s happening is invisible — to ways of thinking about privacy, company’s responsibility to their customers, even antitrust. If you missed their conversation, you can view a recording of it here

  • With regard to increasing your own privacy, you could use a private browser window if you don’t want to be tracked when you’re searching for something on the web. In Chrome, you can find that window under the File>New Incognito Window dropdown link. In Safari, it’s under File>New Private Window.
  • To learn more about the pros and cons of the privacy laws that are being considered by Congress, and even in California, check out the Brookings report on federal privacy legislation.
  • And to find out about Lena Kahn’s “Hipster Antitrust” check out this article about her ideas, and an Atlantic article about her. Now this amazing classmate of Rebecca Wexler’s is in Biden’s FTC

If You’re Not Paying for the Product, You ARE the Product.

So say the experts in The Social Dilemma, the next film to be presented and discussed as part of The Appreciating Diversity Film Series. Please watch the film and then join us for a talk with Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler on Thursday, May 13 from 5- 6 pm PDT. Professor Wexler will discuss the issues presented in The Social Dilemma, and what we can do to reduce their impact.

Jeff Orlowski’s film, The Social Dilemma, documents the hidden practices that underlie the business of social media. The more we know about the lengths to which companies have gone to keep eyeballs on their sites, the more we understand:

There are only two industries that call their customers “users”… illegal drugs and software.

— Edward Tufte, Yale University

We learn that the algorithms designed to capture our attention are also profoundly affecting our brains and our beliefs in ways that directly threaten our democracy.

65% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.

— Sociologist Monica Lee, internal Facebook report

Other documentaries have raised concerns about the impact of social media on our privacy and even our democracy, but this film has a significant advantage: the speakers in The Social Dilemma are many of the people who got us here, including top executives from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and more.

The experts assure us their intentions were good — even the one whose job title at Facebook was head of “monetization”. Yet all are deeply concerned about what they’ve created, and one confesses that he worked all day on making his site irresistibly seductive and then, when he went home at night,  found himself unable to resist the very algorithmic tricks he helped to create.

The most important lesson from The Social Dilemma is that we should question everything we read online, especially if it is presented to us in a way that reflects a detailed understanding of our inclinations and preferences. And we should resist the “attention extraction model” that makes social media seem friendly and reinforcing. As the New York Times advised,

Unplug and run.

Watch The Social Dilemma FREE on your Netflix account, or through the link that will be sent to you when you register for the conversation with Rebecca Wexler. Then join us on Thursday, May 13, from 5-6 pm, to discuss the film, and what we can do to address the issues it raises, with Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler.

Berkeley Law Professor and Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Rebecca Wexler teaches, researches, and writes on issues concerning data, technology, and criminal justice.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is co-sponsored by the Piedmont Unified School District, the City of Piedmont, the Oakland and Piedmont Leagues of Women Voters, the Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee and viewers like you! ADFS screenings and conversations are ALWAYS FREE.

Crip Camp Follow Up

We had a great conversation last night with Crip Camp directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. If you missed it, you can view the recording here!

During the conversation, Jim and Nicole suggested several other resources that might interest you:

  • YouTube shorts moderated by Judy Heumann, a longtime leader in the disability rights movement who is also featured in Crip Camp. Jim referred to “The Heumann Experience”, I think he many have meant The Heumann Perspective.
  • Jason DaSilva’s documentary films, When I Walk and When We Walk, about DaSilva’s son’s battle with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, and the struggle that so many disabled people face with our health care system.
  • Denise Sherer Jacobsen’s book, The Question of David: A Disabled Mother’s Journey Through Adoption, Family and Life

You might also want to check out other documentaries related to disability rights that have been shown in our Series:

View Crip Camp, Hear from Directors on January 7

No one at Camp Jened could’ve imagined that those summers in the woods together would be the beginnings of a revolution. Directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht deliver a rousing film about a group of campers turned activists who shaped the future of the disability-rights movement, and changed accessibility legislation for everyone.

Just down the road from Woodstock, Camp Jened was a camp for disabled teens. Filled with the spirit, music, and humor of the era, Newnham and LeBrecht ‘s film speaks to the seeds of empowerment that were planted at Camp Jened. Incredible camp footage from 1971 captures how the campers were finally seen beyond their disabilities. Milestones in the disability-rights movement intersect with LeBrecht’s personal story and the stories of several Camp Jened alums, including then-counselor Judy Heumann. Heumann goes on to drive the effort for disability rights, playing an indispensable role in historic protests leading to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Crip Camp shines a bright light on a paramount and overlooked civil-rights battle, emboldening the disability community to come together and spark great change.

Judy Heumann at Disability Rights Demonstration

Crip Camp acquires breadth and seriousness that neither its early scenes nor its playfully confrontational title suggest.  As we follow erstwhile campers into direct actions, occupations and unsparing encounters with government officials, the film’s approach remains anecdotal and emotional – but what anecdotes, and what emotion!  Footage of a twenty-something Judy Heumann reproaching Eugene Eidenberg from the US Department of Health for piously nodding his head as she articulates once more the protestors’ unheeded demands feels iconic: a masterclass in focused, righteous rage. Heumann, who would go on to advise Presidents Clinton and Obama on disability rights, is a figure of awe-inspiring charisma and determination.

Crip Camp Directors and January 7 ADFS Speakers Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht

Crip Camp opened the Sundance Film Festival and took home the coveted Audience Award this year. Crip Camp leads this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards with five nominations: Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biographical Documentary. Judith Heumann also received a special honor for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary. 

Produced by Barack and Michelle Obama under their production company “Higher Ground”,  Crip Camp is available on Netflix, or free on YouTube. Watch at your convenience. 

Join us on January 7 from 5-6 pm when we are presenting a free moderated discussion followed by a  Q and A with co-directors Jim LeBrecht (who is in the film) and Nicole Newnham, on Zoom. 

For more information:  Julie at 510 599-9227 or julie@diversityfilmseries.org