Community members gathered to munch on popcorn, sip on iced tea and discuss the impact Sept. 11 had on the Lodi community during a special screening of the film "My Name is Khan" on Saturday.
Lodi's Breakthrough Project hosted roughly 40 people in the Lodi Public Library community room. After viewing half of the film, group members divided up the room into smaller discussion groups.
In those groups, individuals were able to talk not only about the movie, but about how one of the greatest tragedies in American history has influenced community members' views of other people and other cultures 10 years after the event occurred.
Initially prompted by four discussion topics, members of each discussion group provided insight on how they would have handled certain events in the film, from educating students about Islam to dealing with death.
But conversations quickly turned to how different ethnicities are included or excluded in Lodi, and how the city has changed culturally over time.
"When I moved here in 1976, a friend who was African-American came to visit me from (California State University, Chico)," said Breakthrough Project member Patti Radotic. "And a woman at a store refused to serve her. I was humiliated and embarrassed, but look around you. Look at how far we have come."
Other members of the community shared similar experiences where they witnessed racial profiling and prejudice.
Nancy Mellor of Lodi recalled an experience she had to face immediately following the events of Sept. 11.
A middle school principal at the time, Mellor said Lebanese students at her school were being robbed because they were Middle Eastern. Mellor said the only way she knew how to handle it was to speak to parents and students about the harm of racial profiling.
"Those men on Sept. 11 created a lot of fear, and fear is foolish, but you don't realize that it is there," she said. "People were afraid, and they did things, and I knew I had to say something."
In discussing how people initially reacted to Sept. 11, many said they were scared but that they were not prejudiced against Muslims or the religion of Islam.
One member of the discussion group, I. Khan, said when he was working at the Department of Justice, a man and a woman both had to come in to educate employees not to profile Muslims.
"People saw a beard and dark skin and got scared," he said. "When I was growing up, no one knew much about Pakistan or the Middle East ... The point is to educate."
In addition to education outside of the home, many members agreed that parents should be teaching their children about accepting other ethnicities and cultures at home.
"Parents can show their children that there is not so much fear everywhere," Mellor said. "They need to reassure and act reassured that we cannot fear our neighbor, no matter what race or religion they are."
Contact Katie Nelson at email@example.com.