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“TOKEN” Screening

I imagine that every college student can look back on a specific moment in their career and know it is one they will be proud of for years to come. For me, that happened was on March 29, 2017.

Last semester, I had the privilege of making a documentary for my senior thesis. As a media and communication studies major and someone hopes to pursue documentary filmmaking, I wanted to create something that would not only have an impact on people but also challenge the way they think. With this, I decided to make a film that documented the experiences of minorities at a predominantly white university. Being that I fit that criteria, I choose to focus on the challenges, frustrations and positives aspects of black students here at Catholic University.

The initial thought of creating this came with much doubt. I feared that people would dismiss the stories of my friends, or even worse, I would not be able to capture their stories in a way that would be appreciated. However, I decided to do this regardless of my internal fears because it was something that was so dear to me and thankfully my passion for it over shadowed my fear.

With help from one of my best friends, I decided to name the film TOKEN. To me, this represented the experience that many students of color could relate to while attending a predominately white university. The phrase, “token black friend” is used to describe the one black friend in a group of white people who they do not actually consider “black.” The token black friend is also one that they are very comfortable being around because they are, “different from other black people.” This is also the friend that ironically, they look to for everything related to or that is in black culture.

Making this documentary was such an emotional and incredible experience. I am so proud of my friends for their bravery, honesty, and dedication in making sure this documentary was authentic and impactful.

After I made the film, I was approached by The Student Government Association to host a screening of the film and panel discussion. As a film student, I was elated and so thankful that they felt my film could make a difference on campus. After weeks of planning and stressing over minor and major details, with the help of the Black Student Alliance and The Dream Team, the event was held on Wednesday, March 29. 

With roughly 200 people in attendance, I delivered a very vulnerable and honest speech on why creating TOKEN was so important to me. After this, we screened the film followed by a panel that elaborated on the themes discussed in the film featuring five of my subjects.

It was such an incredible experience and one that I am so proud of. I am so fortunate to everyone who had such a impact on how the screening went and those who decided to show up and listen to a perspective that is often over looked. 

Media Studies Major
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