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Anti-Racist and Social Justice Resources
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Welcome to Participant Observer repository of social justice resources that educate, illuminate, enlighten and facilitate action. Learn and then do! Updated and expanded weekly.

Anti-racism, social justice and "People of Color" experience reads and resources:

• Articles
• Web Sites
• Books
• Organizations and Funds
• Television Shows
• Films
• Podcasts


Do the Right Thing (United States) Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play iTunes, Vudu

It is a sad commentary that Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is as important today as it was when it was released in 1989. We seem to have made little real progress on the socio-cultural and institutional conditions that the film addresses; indeed it seems in many ways society has actually regressed in terms of social, economic and racial justice. Last year was the film's 30th anniversary. Near the end of the film, a protest erupts which results in one of the characters dying from a policeman choking him. Lee does not attempt to pass judgement on the ensuing "riot"; instead he attempts to show how in bold relief how such things come to be. Lee wanted to provoke thought, reflection, and a greater understanding, not provide easy solutions. The movie ends with two quotes about violence, one by Martin Luther King and another by Malcolm X. Spike Lee has written, directed and starred in a large number of entertaining and important films, the most recent being the critically acclaimed BlacKkKlansman
13th (United States) Netflix

The 13th Amendment brought formal end to slavery and involuntary servitude with one big caveat: "except as a punishment for a crime". This heartbreaking documentary by Ava DuVernay uses historical footage, statistics and commentary by scholars, commentators, activists and politicians (including conservatives) to document the long and terrible history of political leaders, governments and corporations working together to create the current system of mass incarceration that has led the United States to be the country with the largest prison population in the world. The United States has only 4% of the worlds population but a full quarter of number of people in the world in jail. The film documents how this massive system is particularly harmful to people of color. Sadly it is a history of the present. DuVernay has written and directed a number of documentaries, shorts, dramas, television episodes including the acclaimed documentary Selma and the current TV drama Queen Sugar.
Selma (United States) Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play iTunes, Vudu

A documentary about the events and social conditions leading up to and through the 1965 marches in Selma, Alabama supporting voting rights. In a democracy nothing is more important than the rights related to voting. Despite gains made since the 1960s is it still one of the most critical issues facing America. The film chronicles a series of peaceful protests and marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Amelia Boynton, John Lewis, James Bevel and others that were brutally attacked by segregationists and the Alabama state police. The marches were televised and many Americans reacted in horror to what they saw. The marches are considered to be pivotal to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which has been widely successful in protecting minority voting rights. Until the presidency of Donald Trump, the Voting Rights Act has be supported, expanded and extended by every American president, both Republicans and Democrats. Late last year the House of Representatives passed a bill (HR 4) to reinstate and bolster the Voting Rights Act, but only only one house Republican voted for the bill and the McConnell led Senate killed the bill by "referring it to committee". The Georgian primary held this Tuesday overwhelming proves the necessity of such protections.
I Am Not Your Negro (United States) Amazon Prime, You Tube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes

I Am Not Your Negro is a film by Haitian filmmaker and former Haitian Minister of Culture, Raoul Peck. The film was inspired by and unfinished book manuscript for a book by James Baldwin. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson the film revolves around Baldwin's incisive observations about race and racism in America and his thoughts and memories of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The film is "illustrated" by extensive archival footage, some of which was filmed right up to the year the film was released in 2016. Baldwin doesn't shy away from speaking uncomfortable truths that are tragically as relevant today as they were when Baldwin was alive (he died in France in 1987). As true today as it has been for centuries Baldwin says "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed if it is not faced" and "“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals."

You can find a huge Pinterest page of movies and TV series featuring African-American actors, casts, directors and stories here.
The Hate You Give (United States) Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Hulu, Vudu

Based on the young adult book of the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate You Give is a drama about a young Black girl, Starr Carter, who lives in a poor Black neighborhood but attends a mostly white prep school. Starr witnesses her best friend Khalil being shot and killed by a police officer who has pulled the car over for failing to use his turn signal. The aftermath of the killing brings the differences between the two worlds Starr inhabits into bold contrast. Caught between a local gang that she has offended and a system that prevents real justice, between the neighborhood she grew up in and the elite school she attends, Starr is forced to grow up and take a stand for what is right. Empire Magazine has said ". . . this is a scintillating, angry roar of a film that rewires the possibilities of what a teen movie can say and do."
Cry Freedom (South Africa, England) Amazon Prime, Hulu, You Tube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes

is a 1987 historical drama about the anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko. The movie is based on a pair of books penned by a white liberal South African Journalist who initially opposes Biko's political views until the two met when Biko invites Woods to visit to a Black township so that Woods can see firsthand the horrific effects of Apartheid. The movie traces how Biko is harassed, jailed, beaten and murdered by the South African security forces, despite Biko's commitment to non-violent protest and change. While the film is a good primer on the horrors of Apartheid and has standout performances by Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, the movie has been justly criticized and focusing far more on the struggles of Woods to escape South Africa than on Biko himself, and everything that transpires in the movie is basically seen through Wood's eyes.
Innocence Files (United States) Netflix

Produced by the Innocence Project, this series traces the cases of 8 wrongly convicted individuals and the devastating effects on their families the victims themselves (not to mention allowing the true perpetrators to escape justice). The Innocence Project uses DNA evidence to re-examine the cases of people who were convicted of terrible crimes. The individual episodes are of varying length, some being nearly movie-length. Although the series unearths widespread problems of official corruption, the episodes shy away from sensationalizing and instead highlight more systemic problems and failures than individual wrong-doing by officials (although the appalling corruption of some is brought to light). The series calls for a more science-based and competent criminal justice system.

A comprhensive Pinterest page of movies and TV series featuring African-American actors, casts, directors and stories here.
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