Is racism aging Black people? Film explores effects of systemic racism in the workplace.

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TO BE US Productions examines what it means to be "working while Black" in debut documentary

We often reduce systemic racism to police brutality when, in actuality, it impacts every aspect of our lives.

Two recent studies reveal the physical toll that systemic racism has on African Americans. New research from The Family and Community Health Study as well as the American Psychological Association link race-related stress to accelerated aging among Black people. One place where racism is most often encountered is the workplace, and two Houston-based filmmakers have produced an award-winning documentary illustrating the mental and physical toll systemic racism has on Black people in the workplace.

TO BE US Productions—a Black-owned multimedia company-- examined the mental, emotional, and physical effects of racism in the workplace in their debut documentary TO BE US: To Work. Founders Tosca Davis and Cedrick Smith interviewed dozens of African American workers about micro/macro aggressions faced in the job; their stories echo the findings in these recent studies.

“Much of the stress Black folks experience is from not naming their trauma as ‘trauma’. They’re also suppressing their struggles because there is no safe space,” says Tosca Davis, co-CEO of TO BE US Productions. “How are you supposed to begin healing if there’s nowhere to go or you’re afraid of retaliation? It takes its toll on the mind and the body.”

Their debut 96-minute documentary holds a mirror to the systemic racism faced by Black people in the workplace by featuring employees, and business owners from diverse professions sharing experiences of misogynoir, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other discriminatory practices.

“We often reduce systemic racism to police brutality when, in actuality, it impacts every aspect of our lives with major traumas occurring in the work environment,” says Smith, who co-produced the film and is also a practicing medical doctor specializing in preventive health.

Both Davis and Smith encourage Black people to begin sharing the stories of their experiences as an “act of liberation”, and to continually bring to light the forces of systemic racism and white supremacy at play in the workplace.

On recent studies linking racism to aging, Davis says, “The latest research might have everyone suddenly talking about the various impacts of systemic racism on Black bodies, we’re not surprised at all—this is our daily reality.”

About TO BE US Productions: Founded by Tosca Davis and Cedrick Smith, TO BE US PRODUCTIONS is a multimedia production company dedicated reshaping storytelling by elevating Black creatives above mainstream consumption. The company is based in Houston, Texas and is powered by an all-Black crew. To learn more about TO BE US and to request a viewing of “To Be US: To Work”, please visit

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Danielle Bayard Jackson
TELL Public Relations
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