Must Watch: A Powerful Film About Everyday Racism

To be young means to spend your days with friends, hanging out and planning summer trips abroad – or so many believe. This romanticized perception of youth was given a wake-up call by Kevin Brooks’s short film, Myles.

The film follows a teen named Myles to the skatepark where he listens to his friends talk about their European travel plans while he shares simpler dreams of escaping his neighborhood. The race-generated contrasts are subtle but palpable, until the realities of race and identity set in and the day turns dark.

Subtle hints at the experience of many people of color (POC) are sprinkled throughout the film. For instance, when Myles walks into a convenience store, he’s first seen on the security camera – reflecting how he is perceived by many non-POC. While there, shopping for a doll for his sister, he’s force to choose from all white toys. These depictions progressively become more direct until Myles is forced to face the role race plays in his life head-on.

“It’s a moment every POC experiences. The realization that your identity shapes your place in the world is one I knew I needed to talk about. I wasn’t always self-aware. Black Lives Matter woke me up. I didn’t realize that my experience wasn’t everyone’s,” noted Brooks.

He goes on to add, “Realizing that I am treated different was what helped me fight for equality. But this film isn’t about changing minds. People shouldn’t need to be convinced. They should just walk away feeling fundamentally different. When I was making the film I never wanted to hit people over the head with a message. Otherwise, they stop listening.”

Instead, said Brooks, “Great filmmaking is about planting seeds. It’s your choice to think differently because now you see the full picture. Next time they see someone similar to your character, they’re going to think twice and act differently.”

Kevin Brooks is a 2016 Sundance Ignite Fellow. Find out more about his award-winning films, and how to submit your own here.