with love, mae marsh, 2004
16mm film 1:06 min excerpt

With Love, Mae Marsh is a film about the character Flora Cameron, the heroine of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, little sister of the main protagonist. It focuses on one scene from BoaN that goes unacknowledged in American history for its proselytizing role of white women to dedicate their labor in aid of acts of violence. 

The scene shows Flora in a split second of hesitation before agreeing to help make the Klan hoods and join the older women sewing busily in the background. This pivotal moment follows another important and neglected scene, where two white children hiding beneath a cloth frighten a black child into running away.  Depicting this as the moment that sparked the idea of the Klan uniforms, it secures biology as the determinant that creates a natural white superiority; racism is a natural law, not a result of nurture.

Focusing on the enlistment, hesitation, and eventual tacit agreement by Flora to make the hoods is an effort to reframe these scenes as critical historical moments for white women in America. White women who choose to trace the evolution of their own labor and complicity in early acts of domestic terrorism would do well to begin right here.