At this moment in April with the Rwandan genocide hours from erupting, the reasons hundreds of thousands of innocent people would be slaughtered were not clear to outsiders. 16 years later it is clear the killings didn't break out because of a lone spark, or a plane crash. What prompts thousands of people to dehumanize their neighbors to the point that they can kill them? In many cases individuals just like you and me came to view their neighbors as somehow less than human, as the "other." The 1994 genocide was the result of decades of dehumanization. It doesn't happen overnight. Dehumanization is not unique to Rwanda. Check out the news and you'll learn about a 15 year-old Massachusetts teen bullied incessantly until she committed suicide. As Rwandans mark the anniversary of the genocide tomorrow, several of Phoebe Prince's classmates will be called to court to face criminal charges. The reporting suggests many people witnessed the teasing, bullying, and "othering" of Phoebe and failed to act. Reading the words of those closest to Phoebe you might realize they didn't even recognize how tormented she was. The insults and harassment escalated over many months either unnoticed or unreported, until she snapped. It doesn't happen overnight.
In our documentary film, Coexist we'll explore how Grace and Agnes , two women who are different in nearly every way try to move forward. Both suffered immeasurably during the Rwandan genocide. Agnes lost her husband, 3 children, and her dignity. Grace lost her parents and her sister-- her entire family. They both struggle with the reality of living with their trauma and living among killers who slaughtered their relatives. They are forced to figure out how they can possibly face this unfathomable situation. 16 years later, it's clear: it doesn't happen overnight.
-Adam Mazo, Director-Coexist -5 April 2010