Books, Movies and Podcasts that Will Educate You on Anti-Black Racism
IT'S TIME TO STEP UP
With everything happening around us, it has become more important than ever to understand how racism continues to impact the Black community. In order to be allies, we need to educate ourselves on the roots and evolution of the Black Lives Matter Movement. We need to learn how we can help, and why it is so important. While there are many resources available online to inform us on this topic, pop-culture has the power to influence our minds and act as a mirror to society. This is an inexhaustible list of books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts that will bring you one step closer to being better equipped to combat anti-Black racism and support the Black community.
"Your voices matter, your dreams matter, your lives matter"
- Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is essentially a letter to his son, outlining his fears and concerns about the future. The book talks about what it is like to inhabit a Black person's body, the implications of racism historically, how it continues to affect the Black community in the present, and a vision for the future.
Citizen, an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine is a book-length poem that addresses racial aggressions both big and small. Whether it's a minor slip of the tongue, or an intentional act of violence, anti-Black racism has effectively rendered the Black citizen powerless - the very word becoming meaningless in the process.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi talks about how we as a society need to become more aware of racism in order to create a world that is just and equitable. Kendi outlines what such a world could look like, and what we need to do to actively play a part in creating such a world by sharing his own experiencing realizing inequality, and his journey thereafter.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrisson is a Nobel Prize winning novel that follows the journey of a young Black girl who feels like an outcast because of her dark skin colour, brown eyes and curly hair. She wishes she was beautiful like those with blonde hair and blue eyes, and light skin. The story delves into the struggle of conforming to standards of beauty that exclude race and identity.
Sister Citizen by Melissa V. Harris-Perry examines the harmful stereotypes and misrepresentation of Black women that shape their identity growing up. It discusses how this entrenches itself systemically as socio-political issues concerning Black women are marginalized.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas follows the life of Black teenager Starr Carter who witnesses a police officer fatally shooting her childhood friend Khalil who was unarmed. As the incident sparks protests and controversy across America, Starr struggles to decide between speaking up for justice and risking the consequences, or remaining silent and staying trapped in a hashtag.
"We must unite, and we must organize to form a base to fight racism"
- Mr. Turrentine, BlacKkKlansman
BlacKkKlansman directed by the renowned Spike Lee is about the first Black detective in a Colorado police department who tries to expose the local KKK chapter by infiltrating it. The movie is a dark comedy that deals with the history of racism in America.
Selma is about the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery that were non-violent protests against the disenfranchisement of African Americans and racial segregation, led most notably by Martin Luther King Jr.
13th is named after the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that abolished slavery except as punishment for a crime. The film discusses the issues of race, justice and criminalizing behaviour to systematically oppress Black Americans.
Watchmen is loosely based on the graphic novels by Alan Moore. Detective Angela Abar is working to expose the Seventh Kavalry, a White Supremacist Group that has terrorized cops and civilians in Tulsa. Unaware of her superhero legacy, she becomes Sister Night to protect the city.
If Beale Street Could Talk is a heartbreaking story on how a single act of racism can tear apart a family. Childhood sweethearts Fonny and Tish, struggle to settle down in a racially segregated America. After continuously being victims of discrimination, their life takes a turn for the worse as Fonny is convicted of a heinous crime he didn't commit. Tish embarks on a journey to acquit the man she loves.
Just Mercy is the true story of Walter McMillan who is wrongly convicted of a murder he cannot contest because he is unable to afford legal representation. Bryan Stevenson, a young Harvard Grad eager to use his degree to help the poor, finds Walter on death row and fights to prove his innocence.
"The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another, the less likely our movements for change are to fracture."
- Kimberlé Crenshaw
One of the most powerful tools to influence the attitudes of the masses is pop-culture. Racism and misrepresentation is entrenched within modern films, TV and other facets of arts and entertainment. Two New York Times writers dismantle pop-culture faves and discuss them from their cultural perspectives.
Racism is present in our society - there is no denying it. It can be found in the workplace, our language, and the content we consume. It has become so deeply entrenched into our lives that it's almost subconscious. Code Switch talks about how we recognize this racism, address it, then dismantle it.
Lynching in America
Real life lawyer Bryan Stevenson, from the Just Mercy fame, discusses the history of lynching and slavery. He talks about the evolution of racism and exactly how deeply rooted it is within our system and consciousness. Without understanding the history, we cannot begin to fix the present.
Pod Save the People
Activist DeRay McKesson breaks down news headlines on this podcast. He, along with other activists, discusses issues of social justice and politics by analyzing top headlines, as well as those stories that are overlooked but are important in their impact on people of colour.
Black scholar and civil rights activist Kimberlé Crenshaw talks about the origins of the word 'intersectionality' and what it truly means to Black women in our present society. Crenshaw talks about how these issues need to be better addressed.
Justice in America
Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith talk about how racism has become institutionalized in America through mass incarceration of Black people. Guests involved in criminal justice reform join them to talk about how this systemic issue needs to be addressed and rectified.
BE THE CHANGE
While we cannot even begin to understand what the Black community is feeling at the moment, we can try to learn more about the issue of racism that is hurting them. If we want to be allies, then we must educate ourselves. We must learn the historical roots of systemic racism, how it has affected Black people through the years, and ways we can work together to eradicate this. Only once we equip ourselves with this knowledge can we effectively raise our voices. We hope that this list of resources has helped. If you have suggestions please email us at [email protected]. We are more than happy to add to our list!
Remember this is a difficult time for many of our friends and colleagues. Please be kind, compassionate, and respectful, and do what you can to help them.
You can learn more about the movement at blacklivesmatter.ca
You can find other resources on how to help, and who to reach out to, here.