The brutal murder of George Floyd was one felt around the globe. The 46 year old African American was “arrested” for allegedly using a counterfeit bill, and was murdered by the police officers present, Derek Chauvin charged with second degree murder for kneeling on the man’s neck and restricting his oxygen for over 7 minutes. The video footage of the incident was spread worldwide and, in the weeks that followed, demonstrators and Black Lives Matter supporters flocked in their thousands to all fifty US states to advocate for reform in the United States’ police and criminal justice system. These movements, in standing up against police brutality and in support of the lives of many lost without cause, have sparked a worldwide revolt against the established order, millions taking to the streets in opposition to the institutionalised racism at the core of these senseless murders and in support of vast reform.
Never before has education on institutionalised racism and vast injustice been so central to the wider political and social conversation of the worldwide populous, nor has there ever been a time when so many have been encouraged to learn about and understand their privilege as white people.
For many of those seeking to educate themselves on black history and the criminal justice systems that work against equality, a well made feature film is a good place to start; the world’s most accessible art-form playing host to many black and African American creators who have not been quiet on the oppression of their people and the ways in which white people can evolve to accommodate change. These poignant and educational films are the focus of this list – 10 Films from the Past 10 Years To Teach You About White Privilege.
Make sure to leave your suggestions for more films we can watch to educate ourselves in the comments at the end of this article.
1. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Steve McQueen’s multi award-winning biopic has been hailed repeatedly as ‘unflinchingly brutal’ yet ‘essential’ cinema since its release in 2013.
Adapted from the 1853 memoirs of Solomon Northup, the film portrays the story of a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Offering a harrowing look into Solomon’s time on the plantations of Louisiana, this small snapshot of his traumatic twelve years as a slave are presented in such a beautifully painful manner through the outstanding work of director Steve McQueen and the ground-breaking performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender, each of whom were filling perhaps the most vital roles of their already successful careers, that it is an undeniable force for empathy and as strong of a deconstruction of America’s history with slavery as has been told through drama in decades.
2. Moonlight (2016)
After winning several accolades including a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, and the Academy Award for Best Picture, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight has been commonly cited as one of the best films of the 21st century. Based on “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”, a semi-autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight follows the coming-of-age story of Chiron across three stages of his life, exploring the struggles he faces with his identity, class, race and sexuality while growing up. Since its release at the Telluride Film Festival, this Barry Jenkins offering has been celebrated for its all-black cast as well as its honouring of the LGBTQ+ community, offering a sharp and concise insight into a unique experience in the contemporary landscape.
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