If someone fails to understand the complexities of race in America, maybe one of these films will help.
Throughout the years, countless movies and documentaries have made us laugh, cry, even question ourselves. But most importantly, they’ve helped us learn and grow. Not only are they carefully-made sources of entertainment, but they tell stories that connect with us beyond the screen, introducing us to worlds unknown and to stories worth listening to.
Today, more than ever, the stories we need to hear (and see) are those who show us the great diversity there is in our world. The stories each and every one of us carry, the ones that show us how wonderful it is to be unique, and that we human beings are so much more than the color of our skin.
These five films break the barriers of race and let us dive into the lives of those we may have misunderstood, or not even known about. How key was a woman of color in our quest to land on the Moon? How detrimental were some of the early amendments in the constitution? Just what does it look like to be Black in America?
Maybe some of these movies can help us all understand, at least a little bit better.
This documentary directed by Ava DuVernay explores race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. The title is a reference to the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution i.e. the one that abolished slavery.
The documentary includes testimonies from politicians, historians, activists, and even former prisoners, which allow us to understand how race has been a defining issue in the United States for generations, usually for the worst. It is a film that sparks reflection in all of us and that makes us question how we can contribute to putting an end to racial discrimination.
This movie tells the story of a young African-American man as he grows up in a rough Miami neighborhood. Throughout the film he faces many issues, figuring out who he is, accepting his homosexuality, and trying to find his place in the world.
3. Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee’s 1989 movie combines humor and drama that narrates a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant of Brooklyn. The movie is a portrait of an ethnically diverse neighborhood, where representation matters and where its own people will have to face how far discrimination can go.
4. What Happened, Miss Simone?
This documentary tells the story of the legendary singer and activist, Nina Simone. With rare archival footage, never-before-heard recordings, and her best-known songs, this documentary narrates her life as an artist, and how she became a civil rights activist.
Not only does it leave us breathless, with Nina Simone’s tremendous career, but it also lets us see the importance of activists in order to walk towards a better world and a better society.
5. Hidden Figures
The Oscar-nominated 2017 film directed by Ted Melfi is the story of three brilliant African-American women working at NASA. They were the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, one of the greatest achievements in history, especially for the United States. The movie shows us how these three women achieve greatness not only for their contribution to science but also in the battle for equity and the abolition of racism.
These five films are more than just entertainment, they are powerful tools that help us all listen, learn, and become better human beings. To you, fellow reader, use them as an opportunity to open your mind, question your beliefs and actions, and to become a better you. Someone who is not afraid to look their mistakes in the eye and call them out for what they are.
There is nothing wrong in having held the wrong opinion. But it is painfully unjust to continue harboring those thoughts after learning how wrong they are.
Peace and love.