As we enter another week of a groundswell movement for structural transformation that affirms Black life, many people are reflecting on what they can do to challenge racism. Last week, books on anti-racism ranked as best-sellers. Algorithms and prescriptive lists of what to read, watch and listen to have saturated media feeds and streaming services. These are both actionable venues to amplify the movement and dangerously fashionable.
This week, as the Minneapolis City Council voted to dismantle the police department, City Council President Lisa Bender said, “We do not know what will replace the police department, but our community does.”
What comes next will be the visionary collaboration to learn from Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) organizers, cultural workers, artists and community.
Dismantling institutions that protect white supremacy requires new narratives and platforms for possibility. As the great author and activist bell hooks remarked, “Popular culture is where the pedagogy is at.” What we watch nourishes the imagination and sense of possibility. Here is yet another list, not intended to be prescriptive rather descriptive.
Queen and Slim (2019). Directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe. A poignant film that reflects the manifestation of white supremacy that is normalized in “arbitrary” traffic stops and detention of Black men and women. This is a story of love and resistance.
Blindspotting (2018). Produced and directed by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. Mentioned as one of President Barack Obama’s favorite films of that year, Blindspotting chronicles Diggs during his last three days of probation in which he witnesses a brutal murder by a police officer. Reeling from the trauma, Diggs processes how his fate and future are linked to what he witnessed. This film is visually and lyrically stunning.
Just Mercy (2020). Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and starring Michael B. Jordan, Just Mercy is based on the memoir of the same name by Bryan Stevenson.
13th (2016). Directed by Ava DuVernay, this investigates the intersection of race, labor and mass incarceration through the lens of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Passed in 1865, the amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude execpt as punishment for a crime.
Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners (2012). Directed by Shola Lynch. This film covers the details of the life and trial of revolutionary Angela Y. Davis. A relevant look into the counter-insurgency efforts taken by the United States intelligence and military to suppress political mobilization.
LA 92 (2017). Directed by Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin. Told primarily through archival footage, LA 92 revisits the Watts rebellion of 1965 and contextualizes the Los Angeles rebellion of 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King verdict.
For the Kids
Doc McStuffins (2012-2018). Produced by Brown Bag Films. An animated series told through the perspective of Dottie “Doc” McStuffins, who wants to become a pediatrician to follow in her mom’s footsteps.
Class of 3000 (2006-2008). Created by André 3000, this animated series follows the adventures of a group of musical outcasts and their teacher.
The Proud Family (2001-2005). Created by Disney Studios, this is a coming of age animated series that follows 14-year-old Penny Proud.