As 2020 progresses and the world continues to decay, the ongoing protests in solidarity of George Floyd has become a global movement now. #BlackLivesMatter, more than ever before.
Despite the neverending battle against COVID-19, rallies haven’t stopped. The world’s demanding for justice from the brutal police forces in America and now, even in many other parts of the world – a call to exterminate internalized racism.
There’s no denying that black people in America have had a huge influence on pop-culture. According to Todd Boyd, “Pop culture has to be understood in the proper historical and political context – otherwise, it’s just images detached from anything substantive.” The intellectual is the chairman for the study of race and popular culture at the University of Southern California.
Other professors from esteemed universities share a similar idea. Emphasizing that in order to combat racism, we need to ingrain empathy in people. Everyone needs to be exposed to Black art in particular. Whether it be movies, books or any TV show.
Understanding the Black struggle and how their lives have been a subject of persecution since American was founded, is vital.
The black experience is entirely different for everyone, not everyone’s going through the same struggles and not blessed with the same privileges, hence it’s important to listen and watch different perspectives on Black history.
There are lots of ways to be black so I want you to be able to see the funny parts of it, the horrible parts of it, the scary parts of it and to just immerse yourself in stories that have black people as their center,” said Arienne Thompson, adjunct lecturer in journalism at Georgetown University.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the matter and look at masterpiece movies you shouldn’t miss our on!
Malcolm X (1992)
Malcolm X (Denzel Washington) is a biographical movie based on the life of the civil movement activist, Malcolm X himself. Directed by Spice Lee, it’s a breakdown of his life. How the man transformed from a mere thug to joining the Nation of Islam and eventually leading the civil rights movement, fighting for Black rights till the day he was assassinated.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures is another biographical adaption, directed by Theodore Melfi. Chronicling the lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monàe.
All three were a part of 1969’s NASA moon mission. The movie dealt with segregation at the time and how black woman progressed despite the odds not being in their favour.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
Fictional tales are rarely found here, Black history and adaptations on it are mostly based on historical events.
Directed by Steve McQueen, it’s period themed portraying the tragic life of Solomon Northup, his journey as a slave is thoroughly documented.
Getting kidnapped in Washington D.C and traded across the plants in Lousiana, being a slave there for over 12 years. Based on a classical slave memoir that was published in 1853, it’s as relevant as it can get, even today. It’s an emotional masterpiece and even won the award for ‘best picture’ at the Academy Awards.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
A classic tale of prejudice in America, this a ademy award winning tale is based off of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.
It’s premises is based on a trial where Atticus Finch, a white lawyer (Gregory Peck) who represents a black man (Tom Robinson) accused of raping a white woman. A coming-of-age tale which that address racism and bigotry and is considered an American classic. Set during the Great Depression, it’s a story that must not go untold.
The Hate U Give (2018)
A modern-day take on the police’s prejudice against Black people. Since George Floyd’s passing, this movie is a clear manifestation of the incident.
An adaptation of Angie Thomas’s YA novel, it deals exactly with the Black Lives Matter movement. A young girl living in a Black neighborhood has to cope up and fight for justice, once she sees that her friend gets mercilessly killed by a White police officer. The director commented on how influential it can be.
“It’s important especially if you have young people in your home and in your family to show how early the trauma and the grief can start for some of us,” Thompson said.
Get Out (2017)
Jordon Peele’s directional debut here turns out to be a massive success. It’s a horror movie and the way they’ve addressed white supremacy left audienced shocked!
Moving on from the typical way, which showcases Black people as those who’ve been oppressed, it tackles with the issue that why’re caucasians so obsessed with Blackness. Their culture, art and anatomy. What makes them special?
Without diving into spoiler territory, the premises follows an African-American man who decides to meet his caucasian girlfriend’s extended family. What unfolds from there is unthinkable!
Green Book (2018)
A loosely inspired story of Don Shirley, an African-American jazz artist during the 60’s and Italian-American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga and their roadtrip across the Deep South.
Directed by Peter Farrely and starring the likes of Viggo Mortensen and Maharshala Ali, a former Oscar recipient, the movie was bound to be both a commercial and critical success. So it was! Winning the award for Best Picture among other awards at the Oscars.
When They See Us (2019)
This Netflix adaptation is a based on a tragic real life story of 5 boys in New York who were wrongfully accused of rape. The teenagers at the time were convicted on the case of the infamous 1989 assault on a female jogger in Central Park.
Hence giving them the notorious moniker of “The Central Five”. Directed by Ava DuVernay, it’s a mini-series and consists of only 4 episodes. The tragedy upholding the poor teenagers is depicting in this series in such a way, that it’ll leave you sobbing for sure!
All of these fictional or historical media needs to be highlighted at this time. It’s 2020, yet unfortunately racism is an issue we haven’t moved on from. Inorder to be more empathetic towards the Black Lives Matter movement or understanding the history behind it, be sure to watch any of these.
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