Let’s begin this by saying I am not black. I don’t know what it is like to be black, nor what it is like to be constantly discriminated against. However, this does not mean that I get to ignore the events happening to my fellow brothers and sisters, not only across America, but across the world; and it is my duty as a decent human being to stand alongside them. The events that have been occurring for far too long here, constantly remind me of this poem, and of how powerful our voices can be:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
For those of you that don’t know what the Black Lives matter movement is, I did a post about it, but to summarize, it is an activist movement that campaigns against violence towards the African-American community, while also advocating for social justice and against police brutality, racial profiling, and inequality.
This list of books and films is by no means extensive, nor are these the only books/films you should read/watch about such issues, I have not even read/seen all of these, but they all seem to be too important and necessary, at a time where every day could be someone’s last over something they cannot control. If you have any recommendations, please, let me know, I would love to continue to educate myself.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker. This is a classic of modern literature, the story of two sisters and their love for each other, each enduring life in a different manner. One a missionary in Africa, and another living in the South. It is a hard story, it is not pleasant, and it is not sweet, and it shows the worst of humanity, but it present humans in a truthful light, no matter how disgusting.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The book every single person in the world should read. Do you want to know what happened to black people a couple decades ago? This book will tell you, in vivid detail. “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.”
The Baddest Dog in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers. (short story) A quick glance at what has happened in some cases. Emotional and raw.
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. A poetry collection depicting racial aggression and the result of racism. I have yet to read all of it, but in passing I’ve read some of the poems, and they are painful and true.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Letters of a black man to his son, so they might understand the why of things, so they might see what others choose to ignore, the truth about the black experience in America.
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. This memoir tries to link the death of men in Jesmyn Ward’s life to the injustices done to those that are underprivileged. And even though I do not feel that it achieved it completely, it is still an incredible read that introduces us to identity and home, and how that leads to our demise or success in life.
“We tried to outpace the thing that chased us, that said: You are nothing. We tried to ignore it, but sometimes we caught ourselves repeating what history said, mumbling along, brainwashed: I am nothing. We drank too much, smoked too much, were abusive to ourselves, to each other. We were bewildered. There is a great darkness bearing down on our lives, and no one acknowledges it.”
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. “Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity.” To remind us that all that was fought for before might crumble.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Colorblindness is not the solution to racism, is seeing people as equals even though they look different to you, people as just as much a human being as you even if their skin tone is different. Just pretending something isn’t there is not going to fix the issue, but only let it fester.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. The story of African-Americans fleeing from the South to the North in hopes of a brighter future.
Freedom Writers (2007) directed by Richard LaGravenese. Parts of the black experience, gang violence, and relationships between people of different backgrounds in the 90s.
12 Years a Slave (2013) directed by Steve McQueen. The true story of a free man sold into slavery and his arduous journey to find a way back.
Dear White People (2014) directed by Justin Simien is a satirical film that delves into racial tensions at a college. “The idea of “post-racism,” just like that of “reverse racism,” is really just a coded way of denying the existence of actual racism. And denying the existence of actual racism is really just another form of (you guessed it) racism.”
Selma (2014) directed by Ava DuVernay. The tale of the march that aided in the forming of The Civil Rights Act, and the lives of those that participated, and how the history changed with a protest that began as a peaceful march, and ended with chaos.
Remember the Titans (2000) directed by Boaz Yakin. Perhaps not what many would see when looking up racism. A movie about football? Well, yes, in a sense, but it is mostly about racism and segregation, and how people’s opinions can shift when they get to know each other.
Some things to read online to explain this issue:
Everyday Feminism did a master-post about resources over police brutality, so I will leave that here.
Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering by Roxane Gay
White Lives Always Matter Which Is Why #BlackLivesMatter Is So Important