“The Other Side of Racism and Hate”

“The Other Side of Racism and Hate”
Donald L. Vasicek

So, there was this hot, windy day in Oklahoma City,
May 25, 2017, which was the beginning of learning a lesson
about racism and hate that parallels that of the hate groups
in America today. I should’ve known better before I accepted
an invitation to come here to speak at the Cheyenne and Arapaho
Veterans Memorial Day Service and to screen my award-winning documentary
film, “The Sand Creek Massacre”. I should have known better
because since I wrote, directed and produced the film, I have looked into
the eyes of racism and hate over and over and over during screenings
and appearances in every major city in the U. S. It is a most
chilling experience.

The Director of Cheyenne and Arapaho Veteran Services, a personable Cheyenne man with coal black, wavy hair, and smooth light brown skin with a
dynamic personality, kindly drove me to each location where I was to be.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho Complex in El Reno, Oklahoma was our first
stop. When we walked into this massive-sized hall, he left me to myself to attend to his job responsibilities. As I scanned the huge room, I saw numerous Cheyenne and Arapaho people milling around. I did not see 1 white person. It gave me a feeling of fear.

Suddenly, several Cheyenne and Arapaho people swarmed me. They
introduced themselves, said they were excited to meet me.
They had made up flyers and posted them all over Oklahoma
City, El Reno and Concho, Oklahoma, in anticipation of my
appearance. Each person wanted something different from me.
One man asked me to sign 7 different posters of me with my photo and
Sand Creek Massacre film poster along with my bio on the posters.
Another, Larry, a Cheyenne man wearing a fedora, sunglasses
and a white patch of hair at the crease in his chin, wanted
to talk with me about the Sand Creek Massacre and his
ancestors who were there, and survived. A Cheyenne woman
print journalist asked to interview me after I gave my
speech. 3 other Cheyenne woman asked me for copies
of the film. A trim and handsome Cheyenne man who
is a re-known forensic face expert, introduced himself to me.
He creates “faces” from dead bodies so that it helps law
enforcement identify dead bodies. Meeting him was exciting
because I read true crime book and watch true crime t.v. shows.
He has been mentioned in some of the books and shows.

After several men and kids sitting in a circle around drums played
and sang 3 songs in Cheyenne, a Cheyenne and Arapaho
color guard presented its colors. There were 3 Cheyenne and Arapaho speakers, 1 of whom was the Lt. Governor of Oklahoma and a USMC member. When I spoke I commended the 6 Cheyenne and Arapaho men who told their story in “The Sand Creek Massacre” film, particularly those who served America in the military service. In an attempt to establish some common ground
with the audience, possibly 1 to 200, all of whom were Cheyenne and Arapaho with the exception of a white camera person taping the service, I mentioned Trump by saying that there was a racist and bigot who lived in the White House.

When my speech was over, there were echoes of applause. I write, echoes, because they were few who applauded me. But those who did, their applause bounced off the walls of the massive-sized room. My film was turned on for everyone to watch (there were about 200 people there).

While the film was playing, sitting alone, I started eating my box lunch,
while a Cheyenne print journalist interviewed me for her newspaper.
Then, 6 Cheyenne men came up to me. They pulled out chairs. The
sat down and circled all the way around me. I ended up sitting
in the middle of them, you know, like I was being attacked like Indian’s
attacked whites encroaching on their lands during the 18th & 19th centuries,
who circled their wagon trains to protect themselves from the

The spokesman a burly, intimidating man with an angry
look on his face, whom I’ll call Mr. X, told me with no blinking of eyes that I was exploiting their people by having made this film and distributing it. He asked me who gave me permission to make the film. I told him I traveled to Clinton,
Oklahoma, Lame Deer, Montana and Wind River, Wyoming Cheyenne
and Arapaho reservations and appeared before Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal councils to get permission to make the film. They approved it. The
angry man told me that a PBS t.v. station came down to
Oklahoma to shoot footage for a Sand Creek Massacre
story. He said they promised his people and him that they
would pay them, which they never did.

As I looked around the circle, and met each man head on in
their eyes, and stone-cold faces, I saw that their pupils were black. Like
the eyes of a snake, motionless, angry, maybe fearful, they stared
right through me like laser beams burning holes in my very being. Fear
drove me to attack.

I told them they were insulting my integrity and professionalism. I told them that I made the film to provide a voice for their people. I said there was never any intention to make any money off of the film or to acquire fame because of it, something Cheyenne and Arapaho people on other reservations had confronted
me with before. I went on to say I hadn’t made any money from
sales of the film, that I was still paying for its production out of my
own pocket, and that I would never make any money on the film.

We proceeded to have a stare down. I wasn’t going to blink or
move. I thought, “fuck them”. They owe me an apology. Finally,
Mr. X stood up. The other 5 men stood up. He offered his
hand to me, as well as each of the other men. We shook hands. Each of the other men shook my hand. They smiled. They showed me respect.
Mr. X thanked me and said that they no longer had a problem
with me making the film. The forensic face man asked me where he could get
a copy of my film so that he could show it in classrooms for
appearances he makes in schools.

That evening I screened the film at the Concho, Oklahoma Community
Center. There were 50 chairs, all of which were filled, with Cheyenne
and Arapaho people. I was the only white person there. After my speech
and the screening, 2 different people attacked me for making the film.
A Cheyenne woman. An Arapaho man.

The Cheyenne woman was right in front of me, feet away. I have never, ever, faced anyone with such a hating look that she gave me. It was chilling. I really believed that she wanted to take me out. She ranted about how white people treat the Jews by building monuments for them, giving them money, helping them out with training and jobs, but they do nothing for the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. She asked me, “Why is that? Why are white people helping the Jews, but not use” as though it was my fault.

I told her that I made this film as a voice for her people. I told her that other white people have helped create organizations in colleges and universities for America’s indigenous people to further their education. I told that there are companies and corporations who have and are creating jobs for America’s indigenous people. I told her that there are many groups of white people who stand up for America’s indigenous people. I told her there are television and radio programs that have their doors open to America’s indigenous people. I said that there are a multitude of white people who donate money and time to help America’s indigenous people get places to live, food to eat and transportation.

She said, “That isn’t enough.”

I was unable to take my eyes off of her eyes. Her pupils were small and black, shaped like inverted almonds. The hate that emanated from her eyes terrified me. I was stunned by it. I was thinking that she was going to pull out a knife and stab me. She showed so much hate towards me. I was about to step back from her when I was suddenly able to look through the hate in her eyes. On the other side of the hate, I saw the look of betrayal, of sadness, of a loving woman who was devastated by the trust by her ancestors that was broken by white people many years ago and continues to exist today, even to the point of genocide. It was at that point that I saw her vulnerability.

I asked her, “What is enough?” She blinked her eyes then. Tears filled them. Mine were on the brink of tears. She smiled. She reached out her hand to me. She thanked me for making the film. I wanted to open my arms up to her, to hug her, but the fear was still there even though, for the first time in my long odyssey with “The Sand Creek Massacre” film, which has taken me to nearly every state in the country for screenings, speaking appearances, questions and answer sessions on radio and television, traveling to schools, colleges, universities, organizations, corporations, film festivals, etc., I felt as though I had finally found some common ground with racism and hate.

I will always remember the little 4th grade girl who watched the film with 73 parents, faculty and students at Walnut Hills Elementary School in Centennial, Colorado. She asked me, “Why do people hate Indians?” I was speechless. Now, I could answer her question better than I did then. And what do any of us have, if we do not have love in our hearts for human beings?

An Alternative to Killing

An Alternative to Killing

“How To Beat Writer’s Block”

I am currently working on a short film script, but I’m unable to complete it. What should I do?

Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek on Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado

Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek on Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado

If you want to continue your career as a writer, then you need to go back into your script. Make sure your main character has a goal. Organize it so that you have a unifying theme, a main character, an antagonist (can be a person or a volcano or a radical political leader, etc.) or villain (in fiction, villains represent evil without any redeeming characteristics). The antagonist or villain must seek the same goal your main character is seeking. The difference between them is that the antagonist or villain represents a negative or evil way of doing it. Also, make sure you have a beginning, a middle and an end to your story. This doesn’t mean that it has to be in chronological order, just that you must have this in your script. Also, read your dialogue. Film is a visual medium, so you should strive to show in place of telling. Some dialogue can be changed to visuals in place of the dialogue. During this process, you will find that you will be able to complete your script with vim and vigor!!!

CreativeFuture, the Value of Creativity and Digital Piracy


Donald L. Vasicek

Creative Future Support Creativity Badge

“We’ll take your cameras and smash them to pieces! We will not allow you to come onto our reservation, video tape us and go sell the tapes for

your profit.” The Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council glared at me.       I was presenting my Sand Creek Massacre documentary film proposal to the tribal council for their approval, so I was stunned when this thin man with streaming white hair cascading down to his shoulders, with a weather beaten face and eyes so penetrating I felt as though they were going to burn holes in my eyes, put me down.

I was able to situate everyone at ease by explaining that I was making the film to inform, to educate and to expand awareness with respect to racism, and that it had nothing to do with profiting from it. The tribal council eventually approved my proposal to make the film. The fine point of this experience was that his unhappiness about his people being exploited by others for profit resonated with me because I am a writer/filmmaker, a creative person. Each time a creative person puts their work out in the public, they take a chance of being exploited by having their work pirated by someone who uses it for their own profit without permission from the person who created it.

CreativeFuture, founded by ten companies and organizations: the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, CBS, Warner Bros., NBCU, Disney, Fox, Sony, and Viacom, which has grown to an organization of over 450 companies and over 70,000 individual creatives, spanning film, television, music, book publishing, and photography, works to mobilize the creative community against the for-profit digital theft of individual creatives’ work. Ruth Vitale, CreativeFuture CEO, has refashioned the organization to bring together creative communities globally. Her focus is on the “value of creativity”. She said, “that was what was needed to be communicated: that creativity is the cultural fabric of the planet, and somehow, in this digital age, creativity has become undervalued, if not minimized.”

She went on to say, “We want to be part of the global conversation about the value of creativity, its place in society, and the harm that is caused by the for-profit theft of our creative works.”

Ms. Vitale measures CreativeFuture’s success by “how much conversation we can start about issues at hand.” She noted that its success is that CreativeFuture hasn’t completely stopped piracy, but “we have begun to make people aware about what’s at stake. Our creative community was sort of absent from the conversations about the value of creativity and the harm done by digital piracy. I’d like to think now that our voice in this conversation is being heard.”

According to Ms. Vitale, other successes CreativeFuture is experiencing is that it is actively involved in the discussions about Copyright Section 512, whether or not that section of the Copyright law is working for independent voices in film and television. Ms. Vitale said, “I’d like to think we’ve had some impact there, testifying at the Congressional Listening Sessions, and the subsequent Copyright Office Roundtables.”

CreativeFuture’s members have participated in voicing their opposition to the FCC Set-top box proposal. Producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, The Incredible Hulk, Armageddon) published an op-ed, placed by CreativeFuture on the online and in print editions of USA Today in addition to numerous blogs and news outlets.  You can find her piece here for reference:  http://usat.ly/!S7nr59.  Executive Producer Peter Lenkov (Demolition Man, Hawaii Five-O, CSI: NY) wrote and published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.  Here is the link:  http://www.wsj.comarticles/the-fcc-hoists-the-jolly-roger-on-your-cable-box-1465338921.

Ms. Vitale said that CreativeFuture members spend time on Capitol Hill with filmmakers who talk with members of Congress about the value of creativity, the time and care that goes into making entertainment. She emphasized her belief that CreativeFuture has had “solid success” in conveying the value of what they do, and that she measures CreativeFuture’s success in the “noise we can make with our members (artists all) and the awareness we bring to the value of creativity in our civilization.

A CreativeFuture membership is free. Join the conversation, sign up, and amplify CreativeFuture messages on social media at www.CreativeFuture.org.