What to Watch to Educate Ourselves About Racism
posted by Kally Compton
Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement who seek to be allies to people of color have an obligation to educate themselves about the histories of slavery, police brutality, and other social injustices affecting the black community.
My favorite way to learn something new is through documentaries. Opening my mind to the narratives of people with different experiences than mine can also be achieved by watching films and series by black writers or filmmakers, depicting elements of the black experience.
Here are some suggestions for films and series I’ve watched, or plan to watch:
LA92- National Geographic film on Netflix
About the decades of racism, police brutality, and protests that led to the riots in Los Angeles in the early 90’s. It’s informative and interesting.
13th- Netflix original (offered for free)
About the inequality between races within the US justice / prison system. This film is very eye opening.
Whose Streets- Hulu
This film focuses on the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown. An important watch, as it is about police brutality and is a strong narrative.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson- Netflix original
About Marsha P. Johnson and her life fighting for rights for black people and trans women. This is a great film to watch right now during pride month to educate yourself on LGBTQ+ history.
The Help- on Netflix
Based on a novel, this is a story set in 1960’s Mississippi about a young white journalist interviewing black women on their experiences working as maids. This movie is so good, amazing actresses—Octavia Spencer won the Oscar for it—and a powerful message about how black women's domestic labor, including childcare, was exploited by white women.
Freedom Writers- On Netflix
Based on a true story, this film is about a white woman who was dedicated to teach at an inner-city school in the 90’s during the race war. She teaches her students to care for each other no matter their differences and to share their stories through journaling. This film is so good! It was great to observe depictions of the different challenges each student faced and how they got through it.
Sorry to Bother You- On Hulu
This film is an out of the box view of Oakland, California, about a black man who becomes a telemarketer but doesn’t achieve success until using his “white voice”. Like I said, it is out of the box and a satire piece for sure, but it carries a great message about forced assimilation among the black community and microaggressions from white people.
When They See Us- Netflix Original
This is a 4-episode series based on a true story. In 1989, a female jogger was attacked in Central Park, and 5 young boys of color were wrongfully accused of her assault. This series was a quick watch because I was so intrigued to see what happened next. It is an important series to watch to see the holes in the justice system due to racist implicit biases.
Dear White People- Netflix Original
Currently, this series has 3 seasons. It is about the experiences of black students at a predominantly white ivy league college, whether it be a radio show targeted to white people, students protesting, you name it. It is funny, intriguing, and at times sad, as it focuses on dark issues like white privilege, racism, and police brutality.
About the Author
Kally Compton is a Freshman at LIM. In addition to being on the President's List, she works on The Lexington Line, as culture editor and assistant stylist. She is studying Fashion Media and minoring in Society & Culture. She is also a content writer for the LIM News & Events page.