‘The Talk’ Will Have Audiences Of All Races Talking

November 10, 2017 by: Shauna O'Donnell

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

By Philip Sayblack

Race and traffic stops.  The two matters have been prominent in the public eye in recent years thanks to stories of interactions between police and the public going very wrong.  What led those interactions to go bad is still being discussed nationwide to this day both in the media and in other arenas.  Because the issue has remained such a hot button topic, Public Media Distribution and PBS tackled the topic this past April with the powerful new documentary The TalkRace in America on DVD.  The roughly two-hour program focuses on the clear rift that continues to divide America’s law enforcement community and the people who said community is supposed to protect and service.  It does this by presenting a series of segments that examine what has formed that rift.  Those segments form the foundation for this presentation and will be discussed shortly.  The discussions raised in each of the segments strengthen that foundation and will be discussed later.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.  Each noted element is important in its own right to the program’s presentation.  All things considered, they make The TalkRace in America a program that is certain to have everyone talking for a very long time.

The TalkRace in America is one of the most powerful programs that PBS and Public Media Distribution have presented to audiences in a very long time.  This roughly two-hour program — which addresses the clear rift between the police and the people that they are charged with protecting and serving — offers plenty to talk about, including its overall presentation.  Over the course of its two-hour run time, the program tackles the topic through a handful of segments addressing some headline-making incidents between police and the public.  The incidents include the case of Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot in 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio; the fatal shooting of Michael Brown the same year; the fatal police shooting of Oscar Ramirez in Los Angeles, CA in 2015 and other high-profile cases.  Those stories make up only one side of the story addressed in the program’s segments.  The segments that make up the program’s second hour allow law enforcement their time to show why law enforcement officers act (and react) the way that they do, even admitting that there are issues that need to be addressed with those actions and reactions.  From there, the program addresses training efforts being undertaken by law enforcement agencies nationwide to reduce those instances including in-house video training scenarios that discourage a shoot now – ask questions later mentality among officers.  Simply put, the segments presented here show, in a fully unbiased fashion just how very serious the issue of race relations still is today between the police and the public.  They show that this is an issue that must be publicly addressed and not brushed under the carpet.  They also show that the issue of rogue law enforcement officers must be addressed just as aggressively.  Keeping all of this in mind, the segments that make up the body of this program form a solid foundation for the documentary.  They are collectively not the program’s only key element.  The discussions raised in each segment are just as important to its overall presentation as the stories told throughout the segments.

The discussions presented throughout the course of The TalkRace in America are critical to the program’s presentation because they show that efforts are being made on both sides of the badge nationwide to address the rift addressed through the program’s segments.  Viewers hear from law enforcement officials, community activists, and even celebrities to show that for all of the black and white (literal and metaphorical) that exists in that rift, there are also shades of grey.  There are those people on both sides who do in fact want that rift to be mended and who are working to close that gap.  Law enforcement officials discuss during their time the efforts that (as already noted) are being taken to train their own to de-escalate situations.  They also discuss the uncertainty of interactions that leads many officers to be so tense.  On the other side, there are those noted activists who organize public discussions with law enforcement officials that allow both sides to talk.  The program also includes a discussion by a minority couple who is teaching their son about the two sides so that he won’t become the next statistic one day, showing that maybe, just maybe, there is hope for the future.  At the same time, the couple also proves once more in its discussion that the tensions between police and minorities must continue to be addressed if that hope is to grow.  These discussions and so many others build on the foundation formed by the program’s segments and in turn show not only their own importance, but the importance of the program in whole that much more.  Even with their importance clearly displayed here, it can’t be said that the discussions are the last of the program’s most important elements.  The program’s pacing rounds out its most important elements.

The pacing of The TalkRace in America is a critical part of the program’s whole because of its direct connection to the program’s segments and discussions (I.E. its overall content).  Considering that this program covers so much ground over the course of two hours, its pacing could have easily led audiences to fast forward through parts, ultimately making it a matter of what could have been.  Luckily though, that was not the case here.  From beginning to end, the segments and related material were balanced expertly both in terms of time and energy including even the segments’ transitions.  The attention to even the most minute details such as the transitions — and even the topics’ connections — ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end.  That ensured engagement will in turn lead viewers to see for themselves the importance of the program’s unbiased approach and the discussions connected to each segment.  That, in turn, will lead those viewers to agree to the importance of The Talk in whole to America and will most certainly leave viewers talking among themselves long after it ends.  The TalkRace in America is available now.  It can be ordered online direct via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:




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