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New documentary “Me, the ‘Other’” seeks to foster more unity

Cast members of the documentary "Me, the 'Other.'"
Brandie Ekpiken
Cast members of the documentary "Me, the 'Other.'"

Stateside's conversation with Shidan Majidi, director and co-producer of "Me, the 'Other.'"

President Trump and his supporters say they want to "make America great again," but just what that means and what part of America's past they refer to as "the greatest" is unclear.

Given our nation's turbulent history when it comes to the treatment of people of color and women, there are some who feel that slogan is not meant to include them.

A new documentary film strives to address the prejudice and hatred we've seen displayed in our country. The white supremacist march in Charlottesville last year is one prominent example, as are the hateful things scrawled in public places around Michigan.

The film is called Me, the "Other." It focuses on a diverse group of students who live in Washtenaw County.

Director and co-producer Shidan Majidi joined Stateside today to explain his goals for the film.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

On what “other’” means to Majidi

Majidi said otherness is “an international disease right now.”

He said the word "otherness" initially referred to immigrants, especially of Middle Eastern descent living in European countries.

The word then evolved, he said, and was used in reference to people who are different from what “is seemingly normal.”

“And that’s, you know, unfortunately perceived as white, successful, male mostly, middle class mostly,” he said. “So if you don’t fit what is considered quote on quote ‘normal,’ you are labeled as ‘the other’ and treated as such. And that’s becoming normal and acceptable."

Majidi said this leads to bullying in schools, division, and pain.

“And I personally couldn’t just sit around and allow people to feel pain and hurt,” he said. “And this idea came to me, and we jumped on it in six months. We now have a finished film.”

On Majidi's response to people who say focusing on "the other" separates us more than it brings us together

“I think it’s just an excuse,” he said. “People don’t want to take the time ... when they have this fear of the unknown, it’s easier to just pretend that it’s not there.”

But that, he said, leads to a bigger divide. Instead, he said people should work on bridging those gaps.

A premiere of Me, The "Other"will take place at the Michigan Theater on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Learn more here.

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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