To keep speaking out against racism and discrimination of all kinds, I’m writing a series of follow-up posts that highlight movies, documentaries, books, podcasts, and other media that are helping me learn about my white privilege and how to use it to fight the systemic racism in America. It’s not easy work, and sometimes I fail miserably and walk away for a while (the fact that I *can* walk away from anti-racism work is one example of my white privilege). But I come back to the book, the workshop, the movie, and keep going. We must keep going.
This post looks at movies and documentaries I can recommend, having watched each of thee. Some are free in June 2020, others can be rented. If you’ve watched an excellent video covering racism in America, please leave a comment so we can share resources.
Available on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube – free in June)
Based on the book of the same name, this is the story of how Bryan Stephenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, met Walter McMillian, an African-American man facing the death penalty in Alabama for the murder of a white woman.
Related: The EJI built the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (also known as the Lynching Memorial), which I wrote about in 2019.
Available on iTunes (Amazon, Google Play, YouTube – free in June)
Based on a Young Adult novel, this is the story of a teenage Black girl who lives in two worlds, one her local neighborhood, complete with gangs, drugs, and racial profiling, and the other her 99%-white high school. One night, everything begins to fall apart. It’s a riveting movie, excellent story-telling of Black lives in a world way too similar to recent headlines.
Available on Netflix (subscription) or FREE on the Netflix channel on YouTube.
This documentary, with excellent facts and graphics, explains the links between mass incarceration, Reconstruction, crack cocaine and the Sandinistas (remember them?). You’ll never look at prisons, sentences, or racial profiling the same way after watching this piece. I’ve seen it twice now and each time, I learn something I didn’t know because I was taught the white, sanitized version of history and watched white, mainstream news media most of my adult life.
Available on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube for 99 cents, iTunes for $5)
A personal history of racism by James Baldwin that discusses Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s slow-paced, with videos and photos that juxtapose what he experienced in his lifetime with more recent racist violence. The brief montage of Black children killed by police was heartbreaking.
Available on Netflix (subscription)
A four-part miniseries , this is a close look at how four black and hispanic teenagers were falsely accused, prosecuted, and convicted of raping a woman in Central Park (based on the 1989 crime). Watch it to see lives shattered by racism. (The convictions of the real-life Central Park Five were vacated after someone else finally confessed to the crime. Wikipedia has a history of the actual events and people: Central Park jogger case)
The cover photo for this post was borrowed from the following article, which I recommend reading, especially if you are having trouble getting started with anti-racism work: Life and Death in the Tongue: The Power of Talking (or Not Talking) about Race.
Related post: Reading List: Anti-Racism