Thursday, January 24, 2013

Being Careful in How One Uses Certain Words

Every once in a while one gets the privilege to create from ground up a project. Simply put, you get almost all of the creative control (with a little help of course!).

Here was the challenge:

Create a "crowd funding" (money raising promotional) video production for the purpose of raising funds for a non-profit organization's project. The project goal - to raise a significant amount of funds to pay for a full sized (8 ft. plus) memorial statue of the "Buffalo Soldiers". The name of the project would be "For Duty, Honor and Country".

After a few revisions of a script (the narration), we came to a great starting point as this script also became the "story board" for the entire project. We were careful not to step on anyone's toes and to keep it real! This was probably one of the more challenging parts as there were several places where we could have done more harm than good.

As the story goes, this was about the "Buffalo Soldiers" that helped win the west. Their battles ensued over time with famous (and originally I used the term "infamous") and historically well known Native Americans know as Geronimo and Cochise. As you can see, we changed the term "infamous" in the final as this was not well received by certain parties. Fully understandable for many reasons. The point: Just one word could possibly offend. This was the challenge. Making sure that we stayed on track and also, due to the nature of the subject, kept our "noses" clean.

For me, this was a lesson in history. It is always interesting to learn new things, particularly when it comes to history. Or should I say the "real history" of events that unfortunately many school and history books simply glaze over and in many cases even tell the wrong story.

Obviously and most importantly in my mind was to treat this project with respect all around. It was important for me to ask the questions (the old elephant in the room scenario) on just how to phrase things so as to not offend any party. "What"; I asked; "is the correct term for the soldiers in that era?" What is the correct way to define the race in any era for that matter? Was it "Colored Troops?" as was used in many movies. Was it African-American? Negro? Black? I got all the correct answers from my collaborators, the current men and retired military of the non-profit known as the 10th Cav Troop B. Foundation, who also happened to be the client.

In a nutshell, this was quite simply "a really cool and fun project".  I learned a lot about some of the unspoken history as well as got to know some really interesting (and extremely pleasant) people that have and know quite a bit about this history. Now that isn't too bad for a Swiss-American Caucasian fellow. :)

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