6 Movies About Racism to Watch If You Want to Be a Better Ally
The news of George Floyd’s death sent shockwaves around the world, sparking national protests and highlighting the inequities black people continue to face in America.
As the world demands justice for him and the many others who have died at the hands of police, a lot of people are wondering what they can do to stand in solidarity with the black community and stop police brutality against it.
Watching movies about racism definitely won’t solve the problem, but it might help one understand how far this all goes and offer insight on how to navigate racism and bias moving forward. Here are five movies about racism available to stream now to get you started.
’13th’ – Netflix
Created by Ava Duvernay (A Wrinkle in Time), 13th details America’s history of racial equality.
The title stems from the 13th Amendment, which says, “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.” 13th explains how the amendment led to mass incarceration — which disproportionately affects black and brown communities — and features commentary from scholars, activists, and politicians.
‘TIME: The Kalief Browder Story’ – Netflix
This documentary is based on Kalief Browder, who was sent to prison at 16 over accusations that he stole a backpack. He spent three years at the notorious Rikers Island, without ever being convicted of a crime, when his family was unable to come up with his $900 bail.
Browder was freed in 2013, but his life was forever changed by the experience. He struggled with depression and other mental health issues and died by suicide in 2015. His mother found his body.
‘Selma’ – Prime Video
Selma follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists as they worked to obtain equal voting rights in the ’60s. It focuses on their famous walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and highlights the struggles they faced, from violence to intimidation — even when they were peacefully protesting.
‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ – Prime Video
Set in the early ’70s, this drama follows a young couple, Tish and Fonny, who dream of spending their life together. Those plans are upended, though, when Fonny is falsely accused of raping a woman and sent to jail.
As he awaits trial, Tish learns she is pregnant. They are both happy, but Fonny laments over the possibility that he might still be incarcerated when Tish gives birth. He could take a plea deal where he would admit fault in exchange for lesser time — which is something that Browder and many other Black Americans have faced — but he wants his name clear. It’s a gut-wrenching story that reflects times both past and present.
‘Fruitvale Station’ – Netflix
Fruitvale Station is a biographical drama based on Oscar Grant, a California man who was fatally shot by BART officers in 2009. It is a heartbreaking ending for someone whose life seemed to have so much promise and but a must-watch to understand all that’s going on today.
’12 Years a Slave’ – Prime Video
12 Years a Slave chronicles the life of Solomon Northup after he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He was held captive for 12 years before being released.
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