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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kylee Roberts at 5:18PM
Kylee Roberts smizing in the Ithaca College green house

Blog posting written by Kylee C. Roberts, Communications Management and Design, ’19, FLEFF Intern, New York, New York.

In the most positive way, I hope disruptions occur throughout everyone’s lives.

In my last blog I wrote about the bewilderment experienced throughout the POC @ IC protests: If it weren’t for the students who saw the unequal treatment of students of color on campus from the administration, I don’t think I would have been this proud to be a black woman.  

Three years later, the administration is represented by strong women of color; students have a stronger voice and allies applaud their efforts. Within these positive strides, students of color still struggle to thrive in an environment that wasn’t set up for our success.

Neither women nor people of color were supposed to experience the private educational experience and it shows. In an article published by The Ithacan in 2017, professors of color spoke out on the emotional and mental taxation of being mentors and mental-health support for students.

“There was excitement and joy at the prospect of connecting with these students,” the article states from Professor and Chair of the Politics department, Peyi Soyinka-Airewele. “But as she focused on her commitment to this workload, she said, it escalated far beyond the level of normal responsibilities.”  

Last summer I recruited two black women and students at Ithaca College – Candace Cross and April Carroll—to produce a podcast with me. KINKS is about the black female experience at a predominately white institution (PWI) and quickly became a type of group therapy for us.

The show was an instant hit, accepted with open ears and ecstatic proclamations of, “YAS YOU GIRLS ARE KILLING IT!” While the consistent affirmations are always welcome, the reality is that KINKS would not exist without the disruptions we’ve experienced throughout various educational institutions.

If people of color consistently felt safe in public spaces – unaware of stares for looking different, being asked if our hair can be touched, and being told “I understand your pain,” by a white man – then the world would be absent of art and expression from a multitude of artists.

In the latest bloggers meeting, Dr. Zimmermann shared the art of Philip Mallory Jones. A black Cornell University alumna who designs immersive experiences and learning environments. His newest 3D experience, entitled Bronzeville Etudes and Riffs, echoes stories he’s heard, and research done about the Chicago area.

Jones’ work in this series is directly influenced by the disruptions that have affected black American lives in “The Black Metropolis”, or Bronzeville. As said in his artist statement, the series reflects the lives of those who “persevered in spite of The Great Depression and Jim Crow Segregation and the artists of the Chicago Renaissance, whose visions and creations have influenced generations of artists in all fields.”

The storytelling throughout Philip Mallory Jones’ work is an exciting factor in terms of the liberal, Ithaca bubble. While people may view Bronzeville as past tales of a different time, viewers may be reluctant to learn that economic and social struggles continue for black Americans across the nation and definitely in the Southern Tier Region.

In hearing about minority culture for FLEFF contributions, I was excited to hear about the works of experimental, feminist animator, Kelly Gallagher.

Gallagher’s animations are full of mixed media pops of color that direct the viewer to “overlooked histories and moments of resistance and perseverance.” Her reel includes projects that have been internationally screened and nationally recognized for empowering others through animation.

Jones and Gallagher illustrate the possibilities for light in times of disturbance and disorder. FLEFF’s theme this year will remind attendees that everyone handles and experiences these situations differently; that it’s normal to experience DISRUPTION.

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