It can be easy to feel overwhelmed during times of political unrest and uncertainty. This can be true for people who are having to confront how deep-rooted racism is for the first time or for those who are directly impacted by racism in their everyday lives.
Recently, conversations about police brutality and racism against Black people in America have taken center stage due to large-scale protests against the police brutality that resulted in the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, amongst many others.
Education is more important now than ever, but it can be a daunting task trying to find resources to educate yourself about race and racism in America, as well as how to keep up with current events surrounding the topic.
An important first step in the process of educating yourself is acknowledging these issues didn’t come from nowhere. Racist policies and racist ideas are rooted in centuries of oppression.
A documentary that masterfully breaks down this concept is “13th,” which is on Netflix and discussed by Campus Correspondent Esther Ju. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the documentary breaks down the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery except when it is used as punishment for a crime.
The documentary discusses how this amendment is causing modern-day slavery, since over-policing in Black communities along with a lack of resources for Black communities has caused Black people to be the most incarcerated group of people.
What a powerful and telling lineup of New York Times Best Sellers. pic.twitter.com/rC9z0QpEjh
— Kathryn Aalto (@kathrynaalto) June 12, 2020
“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo is a book that discusses how racism can implicitly show itself in our society. The main point of the novel is to show how it is unproductive for White people to get defensive when talking about race.
To understand the bigger problem of implicitly racist laws and societal ideals, it is important to learn about specific cases and stories of Black people who were victimized by them.
“Just Mercy” shows the true story of a rookie defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who helped appeal the case of a Black man, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who was wrongfully convicted of murder. It is based on Stevenson’s memoir of the same name and the movie adaptation has recently been made free on all digital platforms, such as Vudu.
“When They See Us” is another true story based on the “Central Park Five” case and shows how Black teenagers are often treated as inherently violent by the justice system. The mini-series is on Netflix.
Another aspect of education in the area of Blackness and race is acknowledging the intersectionality of racism with other marginalized identities, such as being transgender or gay.
“Paris is Burning” is a documentary available on Netflix that is centered on the ballroom community in Harlem in the ‘80s. In balls, Black and brown transgender and gay folks competed in pageant-style competitions. This community served as an escape for these highly marginalized people and discusses the issues they faced because of their identities, such as being kicked out of their homes at a young age.
“The Stonewall Reader” edited by The New York Public Library is a book that has first-hand accounts, diaries and poems that document the years following the Stonewall Riots, which is the biggest gay liberation movement in America at the time and was a majority Black movement.
When looking for resources, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only consuming media that shows the trauma Black communities face. To get a comprehensive understanding of the experiences of Black people in America, it is important to look into media that shows the beauty, love and happiness in Black communities.
One movie that does just this is “Friday.” This may sound like a strange pick. How can a stoner-comedy teach you anything about race? It depicts what life is like (albeit in an exaggerated way) in south-central Los Angeles and humanizes the majority Black community that was highly stigmatized because of gang violence.
It is a culturally significant film full of iconic one-liners (such as “bye, Felicia”) as well as equally iconic figures in Black culture including Ice-Cube, Chris Tucker, Bernie Mac, John Witherspoon, Katt Willams, Terry Crews, Nia Long and Regina King.
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We love the amazing new documentary @stepthemovie, opening this weekend in Austin and Brooklyn, which documents the senior year of an inner-city Baltimore girls’ high-school step dance team. The themes of the film have inspired us to want to recognize and reward educators, coaches or administrators who’ve made a difference in the lives of kids and teenagers. And we need your help!⠀ ⠀ Nominate someone for the #StepAwards and if they’re selected as a winner we’ll cover admission to STEP and dinner for them and up to ten members of their friends and family. Plus, we’ll give them and you a pair of Alamo passes and $100 in Alamo food and beverage to use for any screening at any time.⠀ ⠀ How to enter? It’s easy. Record a short video for Instagram or post a photo identifying the nominee and what influence they’ve had on your life. Make sure you tag @drafthouse and use #StepAwards. Our team will select a winner by Tuesday, August 15th. #stepthemovie #step #stepdocumentary
A more modern portrayal of being Black in America is the 2017 documentary “Step.” The film follows a high school step team in inner-city Baltimore. The team is a support network for each of the girls and along with encouragement from their coach, school, counselors and families, they are all inspired to achieve their dreams of going to college.
The documentary also shows how they coped with the social unrest in the country stemming from the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests that demanded justice for Trayvon Martin.
“The Nod” is a podcast that also tells overlooked stories about Black communities, as well as the many contributions of Black people that American history often overlooks. In one episode, they do a deep-dive on how the “Cha-Cha Slide” became so ubiquitous in Black culture and in another, they talk about a Black inventor, Jerry Lawson, who created the video game cartridge.
The resources to learn about race and racism are almost endless. However, it is not as easy to find resources to keep up with the current unrest in our country. Trusted news organizations have been called out for being biased and have also been exposed for trying to intentionally change the narrative.
For example, the Canadian Broadcasting Network was called out for cutting a video of protestors right before the moment a police van attempted to drive through the crowd.
It is important to get information from organizations that have a reputation for being unbiased, such as the Associated Press. However, given that biases can still show through in any organization, especially in this politically tumultuous time, it is still important to see any reporting you may come across through a skeptical lens.
Citizen journalism, on the other hand, is truly having its moment in this movement. There is an array of first-hand accounts that show how demonstrations are going and how police are reacting to them in various cities.
Though citizen journalism is accessible for those documenting the news and those consuming it, since it is often just shared on social media, it is also important to stay moderately skeptical of content from citizen journalists as they can just as easily be biased.
Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.