As a white person with a platform, I feel it is important now more than ever to use that voice to speak up. At first, I questioned whether I should, given the fact that I felt uneducated in the matter and that it was not my story to tell or my struggles that were being placed in the limelight. However, staying silent is not enough. It is up to us who are privileged to make sure to give a space for the black community to make their voice heard loud and clear. It is up to us who are privileged to listen and try to make a change.
In this post, I am going to highlight several films and black directors that have been telling their truth and showing their struggles on screen, giving you a library of films that you can look out for and educate yourself on the issues that the black community has faced for centuries, from slavery to police brutality.
12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen is the heartbreaking true story of a free African-American man being sold into slavery and forced into this horrible world for twelve years. To truly learn about the struggles that black people face, it is important to learn about the history of slavery and this is a very hard but vital watch to do so.
If there is any film that has been talked about during BLM at this moment and time, it is Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. I was actually given this particular film to study for my university course only a few months ago, and it is incredibly sad that the messages and themes from this film 30+ years ago still ring true to this day. If you plan to watch Spike Lee’s newest film, Da 5 Bloods on Netflix in the upcoming days, I highly suggest you pair it up with Do The Right Thing.
Jordan Peele made waves when he released his directorial debut, Get Out, and started making films about the struggles that African-Americans face in the current state of America. Whilst his follow up, Us, is more metaphorical and loud in the message he wants to promote with his stories, Get Out highlights the difference between white supremacy and black struggles using powerful scenes (including the double standard of cops at the start of the film). He is one of the most interesting film directors working to this day and I hope his voice continues to get louder and stronger.
There have been several films in the past year alone that dealt with some sort of underlying racism in the police system. Whilst I found flaws in the presentation of the message, Melina Matsoukas’ debut in Queen and Slim gives a powerful message and shows the worry that black people face from the cops right from the opening scene. As well as this, Warner Bros. Pictures are allowing anyone to freely rent Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy for a month, a movie that deals with the wrongful arrest of a black man in a justice system that unfairly punishes them for the colour of their skin. Considering it is a free watch and a strong film that highlights the issues that have existed for decades, I would highly recommend checking them out.
These are only a few films out of hundreds that are easily accessible and highlight the importance of this situation. If you want to make a real difference, make your voice heard. Do not stay silent.