The death of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minnesota on May 25 in 2020 shone a light on police brutality and racism. Huge crowds were motivated to attend marches all around the world, protesting against police brutality and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Australia, when we hear that 432 Indigenous people have died in custody in Australia since 1991 – and there have been no convictions for any of those deaths – we know we we need to look in our own backyard at this issue as well.
Whether you are in Australia, UK or in the US, many of us are wondering what we can you do about Indigenous or black people’s deaths in custody and police brutality? One thing we can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement is to educate ourselves more about it. If you educate yourself about it, you’ll find out how we got to this point in 2020.
To learn more about the BLM movement, here are 10 movies and television shows which will show you how it all started.
Sure, watching a few movies and television shows might not seem to be proactive but if you become more informed, your voice will be stronger, you’ll be able to write to the authorities, you can share information on social media and you’ll be more aware of changes you can make in your own life to support anti-racism.
13th (2016), directed by Ava DuVernay
Named after the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in 1865, DuVernay’s Emmy-winning documentary follows history from slavery through to the mass incarceration of Black people in the United States. The documentary shows why many people have been calling for reform against police brutality for years.
Watch on Netflix now
Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement (2016), directed by Laurens Grant
This documentary takes us through the events that led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, showing continued instances of police brutality and injustice. Various activists, leaders, journalists, celebrities and scholars talk about their own personal experiences which led to their involvement in the BLM movement.
Watch Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement on Amazon Prime or YouTube
Do The Right Thing (1989), directed by Spike Lee
This movie is written, directed and produced by Spike Lee and it’s about one tragic day in the Bed Stuy neighbourhood of Brooklyn. We see what happens on this day with high race tensions all around and police brutality coming to the fore. While dramatic and insightful, it also has its comedic parts.
Watch Do The Right Thing on Amazon Prime
Malcolm X (1992), directed by Spike Lee
Three years later, Spike Lee released this biographical drama starring Denzel Washington as Malcolm Little, later known as civil rights activist Malcolm X. This is an epic film and it takes us through Malcolm X’s career, incarceration, conversion, controversies and eventual assassination in 1965. A good one to watch so you know the historical background of racism in the US.
Watch Malcolm X on Amazon Prime or Netflix
Freedom Riders (2010), directed by Stanley Nelson
In the 1960s, a group of activists known as the ‘Freedom Riders’ brought everyone’s attention to the racial problems in the US by traveling on integrated buses into the South. The nonviolent group was often met with physical violence by white residents.
The documentary marked the 50th anniversary of these actions, diving into their history based partly on the book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, by historian Raymond Arsenault.
Watch Freedom Riders on Amazon Prime
Fruitvale Station (2013), directed by Ryan Coogler
This biographical drama stars Michael Jordan and tells the story of the 2009 death of Oscar Grant who was shot by a police officer called Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. This film won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for US dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.
Watch Fruitvale Station on Tubi or Amazon Prime
Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story (2018), directed by Jenner Furst
This documentary series begins with the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and follows the rise of Black Lives Matter movement over six episodes.
Watch Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story on Amazon Prime
Seven Seconds (2018), directed by Yeena Sud
This Netflix series follows the story of a police officer who attempts to cover up the death of a young Black boy. The series, which was cancelled after one season, digs into cover-ups in the criminal justice system and the pain the mother goes through.
Watch Seven Seconds on Netflix
I Am Not Your Negro (2016) directed by Raoul Peck
This Oscar-nominated documentary is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House. It’s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and explores the history of racism through civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
Watch I Am Not Your Negro on Amazon Prime
Get Out (2018) directed by Jordan Peele
When this movie came out it was met with some awe because it’s both a horror movie and an insightful look at racial issues. This is director Jordan Peele’s horror debut and it starts out as a Black man goes with his white girlfriend to meet her family in her hometown.
There are some awkward conversations about their interracial relationship in the first part of the movie but later, everything takes a dark twist and we find the racism which lurks beneath coming to the fore.
Watch Get Out on Amazon Prime or YouTube
And here are movies and shows you can watch in support of Indigenous people in Australia.