Race Is the Place

Race Is the Place presents the creative visions of a group of multicultural actors, poets, visual artists and musicians on America’s most pressing social issues.

Independent Lens
Premiere Date
November 22, 2005
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Raymond Telles

Raymond Telles’ 35-year career in film and television includes the production of numerous documentaries and segments for PBS, ABC, NBC, National Geographic, Discovery and Univision. Among the more than 30 documentaries Telles has produced and directed are Inside the Body Trade (Nat Geo); The Storm that Swept Mexico; The Fight in the Fields; Children of the Night (Frontline); Show more and episode six of the PBS series Latino Americans. Show less


Rick Tejada-Flores

Rick Tejada-Flores began working in television in 1969 in a minority training program at KQED in San Francisco. He served as unit manager/production supervisor for KNBC in Burbank, and as coordinating producer for the Latino Consortium at KCET in Los Angeles, where he created the national series PRESENTE! His credits include Low ’N Slow: The Art of Lowriding Show more (PBS); Go Chanting, Libre (PBS); Elvia: The Fight for Land and Liberty (PBS/Vistas series); Jasper Johns, Ideas in Paint, and Rivera in America (both for American Masters), and The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It. In addition, Tejada-Flores served as producer on the series The Great Depression, and has directed films on Hispanic history and culture for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Show less

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The Film

Funny, angry, and profound, Race Is the Place is a visual and verbal riff on race in America from a wide variety of artists, poets, rappers, performance artists, and stand-up comics. Featuring established artists as well as up-and-comers, Race is the Place is a one-hour jam that combines racially charged clips from old movies with interviews and performances. These pieces dare to examine one of the most emotionally explosive issues in American life, busting stereotypes by using humor and poetry to say things traditionally left unsaid.

From a hilarious bit by comic Ahmed Ahmed on the joys of flying as an Arab American, to Danny Hoch’s biting monologue about a harassed Bronx street vendor, to Hawaiian poet Haunani-Kay Trask’s angry meditation on American imperialism, to Kate Rigg’s “Rice Rice Baby,” a funny and explosive rap about the stereotyping of Asian women, Race Is the Place yanks off the muzzle of political correctness to speak the often ugly truths that lie beneath the rosy talk of “multiculturalism” and “diversity.”

Race is the Place also features the work of visual artists, including Michael Ray Charles, Ben Sakoguchi, Enrique Chagoya, Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, and Paula de Joie. The original soundtrack was composed by Jon Jang and Wayne Wallace and performed by them and a group of multicultural musicians. Produced by Raymond Telles and Rick Tejada-Flores (The Fight in the Fields), Race Is the Place casts a light on what it means to be a minority American in a time of many different Americas.