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Seven Movies, Shows, and Docs That Will Get You Woke

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Yes, it’s hilarious. The show finds the humor in pain. Essentially, it’s about a modern day black family raising their children in a multi-generational home. Includes Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Larry Fishburne and Daveed Diggs (who played Lafayette in Hamilton). Reason to watch: Approaches every current topic that is in the media – black lives matter, post-election feelings, inequality amongst jury of “peers” during jury duty, bi-racial identity crises, and the pros and cons of giving your child a “black” name.

Django Unchained

Hard to watch/easy to watch because, as with all Tarantino films, there’s humor. Samuel Jackson plays the biggest shit talking slave you ever saw. And there are slaves in the film, lots of them. And there’s a lot of N bombs. But in the end, the protagonist gets his revenge and the protagonist is the anti-hero and freeman Django, played by Jamie Foxx. Reason to watch: historical accuracy in the “hot box” scene and “mandingo” fight scene were they pinned black male slaves against each other and watched them fight to the death. Straight off the pages of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

Do The Right Thing

A beautifully shot film from Spike Lee. Although Lee had done four movies before DTRT, I can safely say that this film put him on the map. Great cinematography, 1990s fashion and the introduction of Rosie Perez and her hardcore thrusting pelvis. Reason to watch: racial tensions, gentrification, fictional unarmed black men being killed via police brutality, non-fictional names chanted of unarmed black men (#sayhisname) that had been recently killed in NYC. Sadly, ever relevant today as it was during the time of this film’s creation.

Malcolm X

It’s a long biopic. It’s another Spike Lee movie. It’s a film that took a really long time to come to fruition no thanks to the powers that be of Hollywood that were dead set on not having this film appear on the big screen by ‘any means necessary.’ Lee lost his financial backing and had to finally call in the Black Hollywood elite (Oprah, Prince, Janet Jackson) to put five on it. Reason to watch: This depiction breaks up Malcolm X’s life into three sequences: a common criminal named Malcolm Little dunking his permed head into a toilet bowl, his time served in prison where he converted, to an activist that could assemble an entire brigade of men with one finger who eventually broke away from the nation of Islam. One of the few films of its kind where you will not find a white civil rights ally as the hero or sidekick. It’s unapologetically black.

Race: The Power of an Illusion

A three-part documentary that goes into scientific and socioeconomic detail about how we view race. Ideas about race are constantly changing over time, but most of it is shaped by political priorities; ‘institutional discrimination,’ such as redlining. Redlining still happens today. It’s when real estate agents repackage names of neighborhoods, rezone and practice appraising property differently based on the racial makeup of the communities within which the real estate sits. All in the name of gentrification and that almighty dollah dollah dollah bill, y’all.

Accidental Courtesy

A documentary about Daryl Davis who is a musician that has played with some of the R&B and Rock and Roll greats like Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry. These days he’s befriending members of the KKK in order to open a dialogue that many consider not even open for debate. Daryl is taking an interesting approach at nonviolence resistance when it comes to current issues. Reason to watch: Daryl meets BLM activist Kwame Rose and shit gets real heated. Catch it on Netflix.

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life

In 1956 Disney received its first black animator, a 21-year-old Floyd Norman who was raised in Santa Barbara, California. This documentary follows a sprightly 81-year-old Mr. Norman around as he continues to “freelance” for the new roster of rubes at Disney and Pixar studios. Several of Mr. Norman’s close friends, ex-wife and current wife, are all interviewed about Mr. Norman’s life. The one thing they all agree on is that Mr. Norman was never given the recognition he deserved or the promotions he deserved. While he worked harder, faster and longer without complaint, his peers (and sometimes his subordinates) were moved up the corporate ladder to become executives while he remained in the workhorse positions. But, this type of systematic racism never occurs to Mr. Norman. Not when he first started, not while it was happening and not even now in this documentary. Some could say it’s incredibly naive of him or incredibly beneficial to ignore that type of negativity and just keep moving forward. He said he never experienced racism and maybe it was because he lived in California. Reason to watch: Watching incredibly humble humans who have contributed so much is always awe inspiring. But, when it’s in the form of someone that has been discriminated on because of his color, and later his age (he was “retired” by Disney when he reached their definition of “old” age), but remains resilient, positive and divisively present…it becomes an affirmation. Catch it on Netflix.

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1 Comment

  1. wyldtek
    March 2, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Two more:

    Ava DuVernay’s 13th.

    OJ: Made in America