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07th Jun 2020

Watch to educate: 8 shows and movies that depict racial injustice against black people and the fight for equality

Anna Daly


Watch these to help yourself learn.

As the Black Lives Matter protests continue on in the US and in many other countries with no sign of stopping, the message is being sent out loud and clear: time is up. Racism and racial injustice needs to end now and people in political power need to get behind it.

For those of us who support the movement but also feel unacceptably undereducated on the topic of both black history and of the current systems of oppression in place against people of colour today, it’s time to educate ourselves; to stop being passive and take the learning into our own hands.

For anyone who isn’t quite sure where to start, here are a few different movies and TV shows, both fiction and non-fiction, that can help begin that learning journey.

1. 13th

Director: Ava DuVernay

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

These lines – the 13th amendment to the United States of America – serve as the opening lines to 13th. This 1 hour 40 minute documentary gives an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and paints a picture of how closely it compares to the slavery that was supposedly abolished in 1865.

2. Who Killed Malcolm X?

Director: Rachel Dretzin & Phil Bertelsen

Decades after the assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X, activist Abdur-Rahman Muhammad starts his own investigation into the killing and the details surrounding it. Over six episodes, Muhammad attempts to find out the truth once and for all – who was behind the murder of the Nation of Islam’s most famous dissenter?

3. The Hate U Give

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Starr Carter witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. Adapted from Angie Thomas’s novel by the same name, The Hate U Give gets its name from the first part of Tupac’s backronym for Thug Life: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.

4. If Beale Street Could Talk 

Director: Barry Jenkins

Adapted from the book by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk is a timeless and moving story about love, family, and the fight against injustice. Tish and Fonny are friends since childhood, eventually falling in love. Tish falls pregnant, however their dreamed-of happy ending is derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit and Tish has to prove his innocence.

5. When They See Us

Director: Ava DuVernay

In the spring of 1989, five boys of colour are falsely accused of the brutal rape of a woman in Central Park. The boys are arrested, interrogated, and coerced into confessing to a crime that they did not commit. This four-part Netflix miniseries tells the true story of the events that unfolded after the attack and their arrest.

6. Dear White People

Director: Justin Simien

Based on the 2014 film of the same name, Dear White People tells the story of students of colour navigating the daily slights and slippery politics of life at an Ivy League college that’s not nearly as “post-radical” as it thinks. This Netflix series is funny and satirical while also making some strong points about equality, racial bias, and discrimination.

7. Moonlight

Director: Barry Jenkins

The tender, heartbreaking story of a young black man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

8. I Am Not Your Negro

Director: Raoul Peck

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. In I Am Not Your Negro, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. It is a journey into black history that connects the Civil Rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter. It questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond.