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BLACK OR WHITE

Director's Statement
By Mike Binder

In light of recent events, it's become clear that there very much exists a racial divide in this country. When I began writing the script for Black or White, the attention around race issues in America was certainly prominent and very much a motivating factor in my desire to tell this story. But in the time since, it seems that we have moved into new territory around this topic and the thematic elements within Black or White have become timelier than anyone could have predicted when the idea for this story was born.

I realize it sounds cliche, but in so many instances, it seems that we continue to only see each other for how we appear on the surface instead of for who we really are inside. Not too long ago, I was struck by the words of President Barack Obama on the night that he spoke publicly about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. He said, "We have to figure out a way to get past this divide." But it was after this statement, when he noted that the thing he was most optimistic about was that his daughters are better at it than he is, and that really resonated with me. I also have two children, and they too are better at it than I am. They don't see people for color or for sexual identity, they see people as people.

Black or White is inspired by a situation in my own life. Several years ago, my wife's sister passed away at 33. She had a seven-year old son, who is biracial. His father is out of the picture, but his father's family lives in South Central, Los Angeles; they are terrific and very involved in his life. But my wife and I, along with several members of her family- as well as several members of his father's family- all ended up raising him together. In many ways, he grew up in two completely different worlds: Santa Monica and South Central. He was a happy kid and everyone else made a much bigger deal out of the fact that he is half white and half black. But when we'd make the trip to South Central to drop him off for a weekend or pick him up, I would be reminded of just how drastically different every little thing was from our home in Santa Monica. Fortunately, they didn't have a problem with us; his grandmother loved my wife, Diane. But I imagine that if something happened to Diane, I don't think they'd be so happy with just me raising him.

So I wanted to play out that scenario and make a movie that may spark a conversation about how we move forward with regard to race relations in this country, while at the same time allowing audiences an honest look inside two vastly different families as they are united by their shared love and concern for the child that binds them together- because at its core, Black or White is truly about family.

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