Five Books/Films to Understand Racism

I think of past movements that brought change in our nation and world. The abolitionist movement, the suffragette movement, the civil rights protest of the 1960s all had naysayers, those who refused to see the importance of the times they lived in. I don’t want this moment to past by without me changing in the process.

As I look at what is happening across the nation, I have been trying to listen and learn. I want to learn and make real changes in my thoughts and actions towards the black experience. There is something profound happening in our country.

Here’s five books and films that I can personally recommend if you want to join me in learning about racism.

  1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It’s a book and a movie. It’s also the true story of a black man on death row in Alabama. I haven’t finished the book, but I watched the movie. It moved me to tears. The movie is available free for streaming through the month of June on most streaming services.
  2. undefinedWhite Fragility: Why it’s So hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin J. DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson. I haven’t finished reading this book, but I am engaging the text.
  3. undefinedA Lesson Before Dying by Earnest Gaines. It’s a fictional work about racism, imprisonment and justice in the South. This short volume is a modern classic.
  4. undefinedHarriet. A movie available through various streaming services including Amazon Prime. It is the story of Harriet Tubman, the famed heroine of the Underground Railroad. Sometimes we have to understand the past in order to understand the present.
  5. undefinedNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Again, understanding the past roots of America’s struggle with race can help navigate today’s complexities.
  6. BONUS MOVIE: Get Out. Being white is spooky in this movie. It’s a thriller/horror movie with racial commentary thrown and mixed around. I loved this movie.

4 thoughts on “Five Books/Films to Understand Racism

  1. The part in Frederick Douglass’ book where he beats his abusive master with a frozen ox hide, on a frozen bottom section, does my heart good.

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    1. i read this book just a few months ago. I remember that part, too! It was a good read. It makes you think about what it’s like to be bought and sold, to live without your own mother or father is sobering.

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  2. I read the Douglass in the 1960s. You are correct. His story is sobering.

    And I agree with your assessment of Get Out. On its face, it is simply a collection of horror movie cliches. But Jordan Peele puts them to good service in showing how blacks who have “made it” are caught in the same system as the poor. And white liberal “guilt” is given a good going over.

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