“When two daughters of the South, Director Frances Causey and Producer Sally Holst, set out to find causes for the continuing racial divisions in the United States, they discovered that the politics of slavery didn’t end after the Civil War. In an astonishingly candid look at the history of racism in the United States, The Long Shadow traces the blunt imposition of white privilege and its ultimate manifestation-slavery. Causey and Holst conclude that, without a doubt, many artifacts of slavery remain at work in American society today.
The film is narrated by Causey who reveals that with the help of one of her own relatives, the fight to preserve slavery may have actually been a, if not “the,” driving force behind the Revolutionary War. The concern of “taxation without representation” was less important to the ruling elite than their fear of financial and societal ruin if England’s recent abolition of slavery was to be established in the American colonies.
Even after slavery was finally abolished, the South, with its vast political power, made sure its racist Jim Crow laws policies and politics were implemented with devastating effect. These laws amplified and extended white privilege all across the nation by rigging the game against African-Americans, the effects of which can still be measured.
Interlaced with personal stories of Causey and Holst’s privileged childhoods in the South, they present a revised history that explains much-needed context when considering the major issues impacting black/white relations today.
From New Orleans to Virginia, Mississippi and Canada, Causey and Holst travel the roads of oppression, suppression, and even hope to reveal the connections of slavery and strong-arm Southern politics to the current racial strife in America. The Long Shadow is a disturbing story about the lingering human cost of ignorance, intolerance and inaction in the US, casting a long shadow over our national identity and imperfect democracy.
The Long Shadow is not your normal white washed history of America and the legacy of slavery, but an upfront challenge to white privilege in the United States by those who have directly benefited from it, two Southern born and bred white women.”
Please Join Us February 20th at 6PM
For a screening of The Long Shadow on the campus of Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Frances Causey will be with us to lead a discussion of the film.
“Growing up in the South, I knew something was deeply wrong in our world. In the south, the gulf between black and white was vast and deep and not penetrable. Honestly, as a privileged white Southern child, for the most part, I never saw African Americans outside of the work they did for our family. But even then, I could see the wounds and scars of inequality and indifference – the heartbreaking poverty, lack of education, housing and employment opportunity for African-Americans in the South. I was just a child and saw it, why couldn’t others? Why wasn’t more being done about it? But in the South, there was only silence for this injustice as it was certainly not ok to talk about race relations – in my family or anywhere else in the South.
I lived my life of white privilege, enjoying all of the trappings of that, educated in a whites-only segregated academy, a college education that was paid for, and running in a circle of other white privilege people whose connections later would benefit me greatly. My legacy of white privilege meant I could attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My grandfather, father, and uncle had all attended, which meant I got preferential treatment.
At UNC, I saw for the first time a protest against separation of the races, apartheid in South Africa. The dots connected for me in an instant! The wider world of college catalyzed the sting of Southern injustice. The protest at NCA lit a flame. My white privilege helped land me a job at CNN after college, at that time just a startup. There I could flex my desire to right old wrongs and do some real good. After 14 years, I left CNN so I could make documentaries about extraordinary African Americans whose stories had been lost to history because of systemic racism. My first effort was a film for the History Channel about the heroic efforts of the first African American stock car racer, Wendell Scott, who, during the 1960s defied death threats, to complete in the white-only NASCAR.
There was so much more that needed to be revealed. Yes, plenty of African-Americans have succeeded and continue to succeed, but when looking at the three pillars of the American Dream – housing, employment, and education – African-Americans have and continue to be systematically denied opportunity from one generation to the next. No other nation institutionalized slavery as the U.S. did. My research revealed that one of my own ancestors, a lawyer and the first revolutionary governor of Virginia, codified slavery into the new American law.
But it was the abject unfairness of the Ferguson, Missouri municipal court system that was rigged so blatantly against African-Americans that illuminated for me in flashing neon lights how artifacts of slavery were still in our midst. Richard Rothstein’s brilliant white paper, The Making of Ferguson, further galvanized the making of the film.
The past makes the present inevitable. Continuing racism – whether overt, covert, or implied – still pervades our society. Implied racism is particularly troubling and is defined as an individual’s utilization of unconscious biases when making judgments about people from different racial and ethnic groups. This is rampant in our society and must be addressed.
White Americans of European descent have little understanding of the privilege they enjoy, even less understanding that it has come with a heavy price for African-Americans. Why was this so? First, I had to understand the scope of the problem and, after my research, I knew I had to make a film and educate white people about their privilege by making The Long Shadow.
My highest hope for The Long Shadow is that it widely and correctly educates white Americans about the relentless systemic racism against African-Americans. This white person understands the history. I also hope the film helps to start a national conversation. First, we must dismiss outright the ludicrous idea of reverse racism. How have we whites – who are and have been the establishment majority – come to believe that somehow whites have been systemically victimized by African-Americans? This is chicanery of the most hurtful form considering the pain and endless harm that racism has wrought in the African-American community, whose ancestors this country enslaved for 250 years!
Not until we address the injustices of both the past and present by refurbishing the African-American community will we have truly lived up to our national ideals of freedom and democracy for all.”
~ Frances Causey, Director
Frances Causey is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. Ms. Causey began her career with CNN where she was a producer and a senior member of a team honored with News and Documentary Emmys for their coverage of the Oklahoma City and Olympic Park Bombings.
Ms. Causey has produced several feature length documentaries for television and theatrical release including her latest documentary The Long Shadow. The film chronicles how our failure to end slavery at our founding defined our nation, creating grave consequences for African-Americans throughout our history and in the present. The Long Shadow won the prestigious CINE PitchFest Presented by A&E. The Long Shadow premiered last October at the prestigious Mill Valley Film Festival.
Ms. Causey’s 2012 documentary feature, Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? which investigated the last forty years of economic restructuring in the US that lead to the worldwide economic depression in 2008 was a 2012 New York Times Critic’s Pick and is currently seen in over 50 countries.
Ms. Causey was honored with the Women’s International Film and Television Jury Award for her work on Heist. Ms. Causey lives in Tubac, Arizona with her partner Cathy. They are the proud parents of 2 dogs, 1 cat and 2 horses.