Roderick Lawrence Explores Racially Charged Microaggressions in the Workplace in Silent Partner Film
Opportunity often comes at a price that doesn’t just affect one’s self. Actor, writer and activist Roderick Lawrence is exploring the idea of what happens when a seemingly good career move ultimately leads to negative repercussions in his short film Silent Partner.
The film, which spans a total of 16 minutes, follows the aftermath of Black attorney Silas Jones’ life after winning a case where his white female client is acquitted of killing a young Black man, which leaves him questioning the legitimacy of his recent promotion at his workplace. The film stars Lawrence, Kara Young and Michael Park and over the last few months, it has been making its rounds along the film festival circuit and will screen this week during the New York Latino Film Festival, Catalina Film Festival and Detroit Black Film Festival.
“It started as me wanting to explore, Black male mental health, and the effects of microaggressions on that mental health,” Lawrence explained about the idea behind the project. “It was something that I could see that I was dealing with that was kind of a part of my everyday mental health struggle of my everyday struggle in the workplace,” he added. Lawrence however knew he couldn’t bring his vision to life alone and joined with director Aristotle Torres and co-writer, JJ Johnson to create Silent Partner.
In exploring the idea of struggling with the racially charged microaggressions in the workplace, the film also taps into how the idea of what social justice is and how the systemic idea of affirmative action is damaging to the mental health of Black males. Lawrence’s protagonist is used as a pawn in an affirmative action type of situation. But is affirmative action really social justice? “I think affirmative action is a very very small step, was a very very small step in getting us what we are owed, you know, it was just giving us opportunities that we already deserved and we already could easily destroy, we could conquer, we could take over, those opportunities that were held back from us,” Lawrence said.
Through sharing the film, Lawrence and his production company Black Man Films LLC were promoting a sense of activism in the fight for social justice and promoting Black men to value their dignity and self-worth. As for his own journey into activism, Roderick shared that after discovering Frederick Douglas’ writings about July 4th and delving into its true implications, he was inspired to attend events and become an activist through art. Lawrence’s early foray into the arts was the sharing of an original spoken-word piece around the time of the Philando Castile murder, and from that point to the present, he has expanded to telling stories through the medium of film.
So what does Roderick ultimately want viewers to take away from Silent Partner, “It makes you ask, ‘who are you in that situation, who are you in this story, and is that what you want to be in this story and how to change that and change who you are,’” Roderick shares. “There are white people who see the film, and they know exactly who they are when they are in this situation: like what catalyst they are to those Black people in their lives and in their offices and in their homes and in all of those situations. It’s funny to see how some genuinely do not know that they are putting out these microaggressions and that these are happening. I believe that most of them do, but some of them do not. The biggest thing we want to do is start real conversations that are not happening now,” Lawrence added.
Check out the trailer below and learn more about the film here.