“This is [Not] Who We Are” is a documentary film exploring the gap between Boulder, Colorado’s progressive self-image and the lived experiences of its small but resilient Black community. Its throughline is the story of Zayd Atkinson, a university student who was performing his work study job cleaning up the grounds of his dorm when he was threatened by a police officer and, soon, by eight officers with guns drawn. He lived to tell the story many Black men don’t survive to tell.
Boulder is emblematic of liberal, white, university-based communities that profess an inclusive ethic but live a segregated reality. The film explores the interconnected issues of land use, affordability, racial and class-based segregation, educational equity, and policing. “This is [Not] Who We Are” shares the voices of Boulder’s Black community and shows how deeply the roots of institutional racism are embedded. It also explores the ways in which we have the power to change.