A Film List in hues of Black
Updated: Sep 14
“Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races”
– Tupac Shakur
The past several days have been traumatic and horrifying for the United States. An uprising has swept the country in response to the heartbreaking death of 46-year-old George Floyd on the 25th of May 2020, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. After almost two weeks of protests, the outrage by those who have taken to the streets was set off once again by President Donald Trump’s threats of military action on protestors, journalists and activists alike. This justified rage directed towards police violence and systemic racism is not new. On the contrary, it is centuries in the making and has not only cost the life of George Floyd, but also the lives of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and Breonna Taylor, to name a few.
In order to fully grasp the extent of this outrage and outcry for justice, as well as understand the Black Lives Matter movement, it is vital we educate ourselves about the racial inequality, which is at the core of American society. It is our responsibility to properly inform ourselves about the racist policies, both on a social and economic level, that have oppressed many African American citizens to this date. Now, more than ever, is the time for us to listen and for the voices of the oppressed to be heard. As such, this film list is but a mere guide to learn more about the history of black oppression that is deeply engrained in today’s society (and not only in the United States, but worldwide). There are many worthwhile films that give a voice to the black community and this list is by no means exhaustive.
For those who live in the United Kingdom and are wondering how to help make a difference, writing to local MPs to urge them to take action by freezing the exportation of security equipment to the United States is another starting point. A few templates addressing this issue and condemning President Donald's Trumps violent threats have recently circulated on social media platforms and a detailed template can be found here. This template, shared by comedian Grace Campbell on her Instagram account, also raises two other key points: demanding justice for Belly Mujinga and her family as well as putting pressure on the secretary of state for education to make black history compulsory in the national curriculum. It is advised to change the wording of this template to avoid it being flagged as spam.
These films might be hard to watch for some, but they are a testament to the racial injustices perpetuated in the United States for over more than 400 years. And it is for that very reason that they need to be seen. It goes without saying that viewing these films will not eradicate racism inflicted on African Americans overnight. But, at the very least, they will help those who are willing to broaden their worldview to better comprehend the scope and the severity of this "pandemic of racism" that has taken toll of humanity, myself included.
1. Do the Right Thing (Director: Spike Lee, 1989)
Residents of a Brooklyn neighbourhood face the hottest day of the year, but also heated racial tension that culminates into an explosion of violence and tragic death.
2. Boyz n the Hood (Director: John Daniel Singleto, 1991)
Three young men living in a ghetto neighbourhood in Los Angeles find themselves questioning life as they know it, as well as their future prospects.
3. Fruitvale Station (Director: Ryan Coogler, 2013)
A young man crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers, on what seems to be a recount of just an ordinary day in his life.
4. 12 Years a Slave (Director: Steve McQueen, 2013)
5. 13th (Director: Ava DuVernay, 2016)
A documentary titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution that traces the economic history of slavery, but also the demonization of minorities.
Available to stream on Netflix UK along with When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s miniseries based on the Central Park Five, a group of wrongly convicted black teenagers.
6. I Am Not Your Negro (Director: Raoul Peck, 2016)
7. Get Out (Director: Jordan Peele, 2017)
A young man spends the weekend with his girlfriend and her parents in Upstate New York, where he uncovers a disturbing secret that threatens his life.
8. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (Director: David France, 2017)
A documentary and investigation into the mysterious death of the gay rights activist and veteran Marsha P. Johnson, who was one of the lead figures in the Stonewall uprising.
9. If Beale Street Could Talk (Director: Barry Kenkins, 2018)
A young and pregnant woman finds her world turned upside down when her lover is wrongly accused of a crime, which sets her on a mission to clear his name.
10. The Hate U Give (Director: George Tillman Jr., 2018)
A teenager devastated after witnessing the shooting of her best friend at the hands of a police officer attempts to seek justice, with the support from her community.
11. Just Mercy (Director: Destin Daniel Cretton, 2019)
A young district attorney seeks to free a pulpwood worker on death row, who he believes was wrongly convicted for the murder of a woman.