How To Be Antiracist
During June and July, 2020, Salem members and friends from around the U.S. gathered online for a 6-week series designed to deepen our understanding of racism in ourselves and in America, and learn what we can do about it. Through reading, film viewing, and discussion, the group explored the history and consequences of systemic racism, and discovered how to become ANTIRACISTS: active agents of healing, justice, reconciliation, and dismantling racism, individually and collectively.
Antiracist resources and recommendations for taking action are at the Facebook Group: Antiracist Friends. Ask to join in!
MORE READING & FILMS
OUR COMMON READER
How to Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (2019)
Most people will tell you that racism is all about hatred and ignorance. In How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi's follow-up to his National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, he explains that racism is ultimately structural. Racism directs attention away from harmful, inequitable policies and turns that attention on the people harmed by those policies.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (National Book Award Winner) by Ibram X. Kendi (2017)
"An engrossing and relentless intellectual history of prejudice in America.... The greatest service Kendi [provides] is the ruthless prosecution of American ideas about race for their tensions, contradiction and unintended consequences."―Washington Post
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (2018)
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
White Rage by Carol Anderson (2017)
A sobering primer on the myriad ways African American resilience and triumph over enslavement, Jim Crow and intolerance have been relentlessly defied by the very institutions entrusted to uphold our democracy." - Washington Post
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (2018)
This incisive memoir takes a penetrating look at race and the Christian faith while providing tools on how to cope with microaggressions and blatant racism. Brown perfectly and succinctly describes the corrosive weight of white supremacy embedded within American institutions, which African Americans and other people of color endure on a daily basis in schools, professional spaces, and places of worship.
by Shelby Steele (2007)
In 1955 the killers of Emmett Till, a black Mississippi youth, were acquitted because they were white. Forty years later, despite the strong DNA evidence against him, accused murderer O. J. Simpson went free after his attorney portrayed him as a victim of racism. The age of white supremacy has given way to an age of white guilt, and neither has been good for African Americans. Through articulate analysis and engrossing recollections, acclaimed race relations scholar Shelby Steele sounds a powerful call for a new culture of personal responsibility.
FOR DISCUSSION JUNE 30:
13th (2016) Netflix/Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Ava DuVernay. The film explores the "intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;" it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.
FOR DISCUSSION JULY 7:
I Am Not Your Negro (2016) PBS.com/Netflix/Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript Remember This House. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin's reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his personal observations of American history. It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards and won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary.
FOR DISCUSSION JULY 14:
The Central Park Five (2012) PBS.com/Amazon Prime Video. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, this documentary tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles The Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED FILMS
When They See Us (2019 Miniseries) Netflix. Created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay. It is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.
Birth of a Movement: The Battle Against America’s First Blockbuster (2017) Amazon Prime Video. This historical documentary tells the little-known story of William Monroe Trotter, a fire-breathing editor of a Boston black newspaper who helped launch a nationwide movement in 1915 to ban a flagrantly racist film, The Birth of a Nation. This film tells the story of a black civil rights movement few are familiar with—one that occurred a full 40 years before the one we know.
Freedom Summer (2014) Amazon Prime Video. Details the events of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, when more than 700 student activists took segregated Mississippi by storm because of underscored by the systematic exclusion of African Americans from the political process. Bob Moses of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee developed a campaign to bring a thousand volunteers to canvassed for voter registration, creating freedom schools and establishing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Spies of Mississippi (2014) Amazon Prime Video. The story of a secret spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain “the Mississippi way of life,” white supremacy, during the 1950s and ‘60s. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC) evolved from a predominantly public relations agency to a full-fledged spy operation, spying on over 87,000 Americans over the course of a decade.
The Uncomfortable Truth (2017) Amazon Prime Video. When the son of Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, dives into the 400-year history of institutional racism in America, he is confronted with the shocking reality that his family helped start it all from the very beginning. A comprehensive and insightful exploration of the origins and history of racism in America told through a very personal and honest story.
4 Little Girls (1997) Amazon Prime Video. Spike Lee directs a documentary detailing the September 15, 1963 murder of four African-American girls (Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson) in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Freedom Riders (2010) Amazon Prime Video/PBS. The film chronicles the story behind hundreds of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders that challenged racial segregation in American interstate transportation during the Civil Rights Movement. The activist traveled together in small interracial groups and sat wherever they chose on buses and trains to compel equal access to terminal restaurants and waiting rooms. They brought the ongoing practice of racial segregation in the southern United States to national attention.
FEATURE / DRAMA
When They See Us (2019) Netflix. Miniseries created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, that premiered in four parts on May 31, 2019. It is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.
Just Mercy (2019) Amazon Prime Video. The true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. The film is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Stevenson. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and featuring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, Karan Kendrick and Brie Larson.
Selma (2014) Netflix/Amazon Prime Video. Historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches initiated and directed by James Bevel and led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis. Featuring David Oyelowo as King, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Tim Roth as George Wallace, Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Common as Bevel.
Fruitvale Station (2013) Amazon Prime Video. written and directed by Ryan Coogler. It is Coogler's feature directorial debut and is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.
Fences (2016) Amazon Prime Video. Starring, produced and directed by Denzel Washington and written by August Wilson, based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 play of the same name. A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life. In addition to Washington, the film also stars Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney.
Marshall (2017) Amazon Prime Video. Biographical legal drama film directed by Reginald Hudlin and written by Michael and Jacob Koskoff. Featuring Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, and focuses on one of the first cases of his career, the State of Connecticut v. Joseph Spell. It also stars Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, and James Cromwell.
Do the Right Thing (1989) Amazon Prime Video. Produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee The story explores a Brooklyn neighborhood's simmering racial tension, which culminates in violence and a death on a hot summer day. It stars Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson, and is the feature film debut of Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez.
Dear White People (2014) Amazon Prime Video. Comedy-drama directed and co-produced by Justin Simien. The film focuses on escalating racial tensions at a fictitious, prestigious Ivy League college from the perspective of several black students. It stars Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell, Kyle Gallner, Brittany Curran, Marque Richardson and Dennis Haysbert.
Moonlight (2016) Netflix. Coming-of-age drama written and directed by Barry Jenkins, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. It stars Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali. The film presents three stages in the life of the main character: his youth, adolescence, and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.
12 Years a Slave (2013) Amazon Prime Video. Adaptation of the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup was put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released. Winner of Best Picture Academy Award.
Amistad (1997) Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the true story of the events in 1839 aboard the slave ship La Amistad, during which Mende tribesmen abducted for the slave trade managed to gain control of their captors' ship off the coast of Cuba, and the international legal battle that followed their capture by the Washington, a U.S. revenue cutter. The case was ultimately resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1841. Featuring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and Matthew McConaughey.
Glory (1989) Amazon Prime. Directed by Edward Zwick about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the Union Army's second African-American regiment in the American Civil War. It stars Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment's commanding officer, and Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman as fictional members of the 54th.