Being actively antiracist- a list of movies that tackle past and present racism

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Ivan Radic

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/50115137476

Since the murder of George Floyd at  the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis, the topic of racism and violence against black  people has taken the spotlight throughout SNS  and traditional news media . However, while hashtags trend and people preach about #Blacklivesmatter, how many of those are being actively anti-racist in their lives? In order to fight the racism embedded in systems all around the world, we have to acknowledge and understand the big problems in today’s society: racism and privilege. If you find yourself unable to actively help in the fight against racism by attending protests or donating money,  the thing to do is educate yourself on these topics, whether it be listening to podcasts, reading articles, watching movies, and acknowledging your own privilege.

 

To help you with this, we have put together a list of movies you can watch on Netflix that tackle the issues of racism help us learn more about the systems of oppression found in the world, to develop our own understanding and views.

 

When They See Us – Ava Duvernay

This mini-series  tackles the real-life story of five young black and Hispanic boys in 1989 who were jailed for a crime they did not commit . They were known as the Central Park Five, though they are now often called the Exonerated Five.  It is a fast-paced series that not only explores systematic racism, but also the effects of all types of disenfranchisement. It depicts the lifetime of fear experienced by  the parents of the kids, the lack of money that leads to inadequate lawyers, the powerlessness against a system that does not care about you.

 

American Son– Kenny Leon

The movie American Son takes place in a Miami police station in early morning; where Kendra is introduced as she desperately calls her 18-year-old son, who isn’t answering the phone. The story follows Kendra and her husband as they search for their son. It tackles issues such as identity, profiling, the cultural components of a biracial or multiracial  child’s upbringing, and the dangers one faces as an African American man.

 

Dear White People– Justin Simien

This 10-part adaptation of Justin Simien’s 2014 film addressing  racism on college campus pulls off a feat that not even the bigger programs do: it creates a self-contained and somewhat dreamlike world that seems to mirror our own. Rather than having a setting and a story, it has philosophy and a vision of life. It is set in a predominantly African American dorm on the campus of an Ivy League, Winchester university . The main characters find themselves constantly fighting against prejudice and the alienation that follows them due to the colour of their skin. It explores the issues of black beauty, skin colour prejudice, insecurity around social standing, and what happens when someone chooses to take a stand on a platform where race is central.

 

See You Yesterday– Stefon Bristol

See you yesterday is a thought-provoking movie which follows two African American teens on Brooklyn who try to build time machines to undo a wrongful police shooting where a teen was killed. They struggle with logistical and philosophical conundrums as they try to change the past. The movie celebrates marginalised communities  acquiring the power to change a system that oppressed them. The Verge describes the movie as “Back to the future with sharp social commentary”, a time travel movie combined with the  Black Lives Matter movement.

 

13th- Ava Duvernay

In 13th, Duvernay makes a powerful statement about the prison industrial complex and explores the history of black lives in America post the Jim Crow laws, statutes that legalised racial segregation.  It takes its title directly from the 13th amendment, which despite outlawing slavery, left a significant loophole, that is what the movie explores . This consists of an easily missed clause in the amendment, which converts slavery from a legal business to an equally legal method of punishment for criminals. Duvernay boldly undertakes  the question of whether African Americans were ever truly “free” in America.