Get Educated On Anti-Black Racism With These 8 Movies + Shows
Raise your hand if you were probably going to stream something this weekend.
With the realities of still being in the midst of a pandemic, it’s likely that we’ll be watching something at some point this weekend so why not consider programming with a purpose? In light of the much-needed Black Lives Matter and anti-racism revolution that’s happening right now, it’s clear that more education and resources are needed in amplifying the voices of Black people and for becoming authentic allies.
If you’re overwhelmed with where to start your education journey, here’s a list of films and documentaries to begin with. Full disclosure: we haven’t seen all of the films on our list yet, but we will, and we hope you will too as a part of an education on how systemic racism has long impacted the Black community.
Here’s what we’ll be watching, and what we know about them:
1. 13th (2016)
Named after the 13th Amendment, Emmy award-winning documentary 13th focuses on inequality and racism within the United States, their politics, and more specifically, their criminal justice system. In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States, but the prison system’s mass incarceration of Black people, as shown in 13th, speaks to how slavery was never really abolished, and still exists in the system today.
This film was also created by a Black woman, Ava DuVernay, who is an American filmmaker, director and film distributor. We can watch this documentary and support DuVernay’s work on Netflix.
2. There’s Something in the Water (2019)
There’s Something in the Water is a documentary illustrating some of Nova Scotia’s greatest environmental crises. It explores the realities of environmental racism in Canada’s Indigenous and Black communities, environmental racism in Nova Scotia, Canada, exploring the injustices and injuries to Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women who are fighting to protect their communities, their land, their home.
This documentary speaks to the racism that exists in Canada, and particularly how low income, often Indigenous or Black communities are targeted in a country where your postal code determines your health, access to health care, access to clean water and food. It shines a light on the Canadian government and how the system has long neglected the health of Indigenous and Black communities. Available on Netflix.
3. When They See Us (2019)
When They See Us is a mini-series about the Central Park Five, a real-life story of racial injustice in America. On the night of April 19, 1989, a young female jogger was brutally beaten and raped in Central Park. Five young black men: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise became suspects in the investigation despite their innocence.
This series tells the story of their wrongful incarcerations from their perspectives and the collateral damage that ensues because of it. The perspectives that the media had little interest in highlighting during their trials and convictions.
This is another creation by Ava DuVernay and can also be watched on Netflix.
4. The Hate U Give (2018)
The Hate U Give is a film based off the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. It’s about a teenage Black girl who witnesses her Black friend being murdered by the police and paints a picture of what it looks like to grapple gun violence, racism, police brutality and activism.
George Tillman Jr., a Black American film producer, screenwriter and director, created this film that available on Amazon Prime.
5. Dear White People (2017)
Dear White People is TV series that follows a group of Black students as they navigate life at an Ivy League college in the United States, clearly illustrating modern racism and white privilege. The satirical drama series shows how racism exists in daily life and is embedded in institutions, where Black students have to carefully move around spaces where blatant racism is present. It is based on the 2014 film of the same name, and basically picks up where the film left off.
It was created by an African American filmmaker, actor and author, Justin Simien, who also created the film, Dear White People. This series is available on Netflix.
6. The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson (2017)
This documentary looks into the murder of a Black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson, who was an American gay liberation activist and drag queen. She played a vital role in the Stonewall riots of 1969, which were a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the USA, and much of the world too. Marsha’s body was mysteriously found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, shortly after a pride parade, when she was 46 years old.
Police originally ruled her death a suicide, in a time where early transgender pioneers were largely victims of police brutality, but friends and others in the community insisted this was false. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson explores the mystery and looks at three different women that are all connected, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Victoria Cruz – all LGBT liberation activists in America. Available on Netflix.
7. BlacKkKlansman (2018)
The BlacKkKlansman, tells the story of Ron Stallworth, Colorado Spring’s first African American police detective who infiltrates the KKK. This movie is a biographical dark comedy based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. It sheds light on white supremacy and the KKK, and the fight against racism in America. The film includes references to the Black Power Movement, the civil rights movement, the KKK and even the events in Charlottesville in 2017. While it’s a story of past events, it also reminds us how white supremacy and racial challenges continue in the US today.
This movie was directed by Spike Lee, an award-winning African American film director, producer, writer, actor and professor. BlacKkKlansman is available on Amazon Prime Video.
8. Malcolm X (1992)
Malcolm X is a biographical drama movie about Malcolm X, the African American human rights activist, Muslim minister and supporter of Black nationalism. He is best known for being a leader during the civil rights movement, and his controversial advocacy around Black racism and violence. This movie shows how white power traps Black people in systemic oppression, as well as Malcolm X’s radical pursuit of racial justice.
Spike Lee also created this film, and it’s available on Amazon Prime Video.
We hope this list inspires you to join us on this first step towards being actively anti-racist. We acknowledge this list comes with its own level of privilege just to use. It’s also not perfect, nor does it contain all the answers, but we, too, are learning and just starting to scratch the surface of confronting our history with systemic racism and our role in moving forward. To share your recommendations, find us on social @RethinkBreastCancer. – Jasmine Sikand