ROCK ISLAND — A "Listen Up" video series is aimed at discrimination.

The series, created for National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, is sponsored by Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, including the Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island and the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport.

"We are delighted to share a message of listening with the wider community," prioress Sandra Brunenn of Rock Island Benedictines said. "'Listen' is the first word in St. Benedict’s Holy Rule. We are called to put aside our own prejudices to listen deeply to one another. Through deep listening we can create peaceful community." 

The three 60-second videos were directed and produced by the Azubuike African American Council on the Arts in Davenport. Starting March 8, they will be shown on social media and in movie theaters, thanks to area Catholic Sisters.

According to news release materials, the videos feature vignettes of discriminatory and potentially violent situations sparked by ignorance and fear. The situations are resolved by listening.

One video shows a young woman being teased about her hijab. Another shows a teenage boy stalked by a store manager threatening to mace him. The third features a young, obviously poor woman, mocked for her wardrobe.

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The vignettes, featuring local teenage and adult actors, were filmed at the Putnam Museum, Kwik Star and Mid City High School, all in Davenport

"Azubuike’s mission is to reconcile racial divides and to spark a much larger conversation about race relations in the Quad Cities through the Arts," Sister Johanna Rickl, vice president of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, said. "We are grateful to them and their actors and crew, many of whom are at-risk youth, for their help.”

Too often we jump to conclusions about people we perceive as being different from us, Sister Janice Cebula, president of the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa, said.

"We hope the videos will encourage viewers to stop to think about their own prejudices, value diversity and step out of their comfort zones," she said.

The three groups of sisters will host a joint open house 2-4 p.m. March 9 at the Humility of Mary Center, 820 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport. The event will include an opening prayer and presentation of the videos. A children’s corner and refreshments also will be available.

Others involved include sisters from St. Francis and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Presentation, Dubuque, Iowa; Trappistine Sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Sinsinawa, Wis.; the Dominican Sisters; and Perpetual Adoration, in La Crosse, Wis.



Leon is a reporter for the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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