Resources to check your privilege

Here are some films and books fundamental to understanding the Black Lives Matter movement

Kelsey Paul, Staff Writer

The Black Lives Matter movement has existed since 2013, but today, it is as important as ever.

Even amid alarmingly high rates of police brutality against Black individuals and the COVID-19 pandemic, the movement has not lost its momentum. According to its website, Black Lives Matter aims to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes,” with global support and organizations based in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

However, there has been a considerable dispute surrounding the mission and objectives of the movement. Many white people are confused about its importance, while others are angry, claiming it is exclusionary and socially incorrect. The many misconceptions about the movement prove that it is crucial to take the time to educate ourselves about its purpose and more importantly, to listen to and amplify Black voices.

Design by Michael Clement
Design by Michael Clement

In June 2020, Netflix dedicated a part of its platform to do just that. There is a collection titled “Black Lives Matter,” under which you can find films, TV shows and documentaries to “learn more about racial injustice and the Black experience in America,” according to its website.

Dr. Christina Dickerson, assistant professor of history at Quinnipiac University, urges people to educate themselves of African American history in order to have a firmer grasp of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“In particular, I recommend that interested persons learn about Reconstruction — 1865 to 1877 — a period that established many of the dynamics that still affect African Americans today,” Dickerson said. “Toward that end, I suggest viewing the PBS documentary ‘Reconstruction: America After the Civil War.’”

According to PBS’ website, the documentary series “explores the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction, and revolutionary social change.” It also recognizes Reconstruction as a consequential period of time that is largely overlooked, yet paramount to our understanding of democracy today.

It’s equally as important to make time outside of classes to build upon our knowledge of the movement and its history and to engage in conversation with one another about it. Tri Delta, a sorority at Quinnipiac, is excelling in that department. Within the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the organization, Vice President of Chapter Programming and Development Jessica Brown started a book club.

“We are reading ‘The Hate U Give,’” Brown said. “I chose this book because I’ve heard that it is really impactful and gives people a new perspective on life.”

Jessica Simms

“The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, made its way onto banned books lists for “inappropriate language.” Directly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the novel “addresses issues of racism and police violence as witnessed by Starr, a 16-year-old girl who navigates between her poverty-stricken neighborhood and the wealthy suburban prep school she attends,” according to Banned Books Week.

Jailynn Caraballo, senior journalism and political science double major and vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists at Quinnipiac, recommended watching the documentary series “Time: The Kalief Browder Story.”

“It explains his trials and tribulations while incarcerated in New York’s Rikers Island jail,” said Caraballo. “It shows just how awful the justice system is in thee United States and how unfair many incarcerations are.”

Caraballo also suggested reading “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir,” a novel by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele. In remembrance of incidents that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement, this memoir recounts the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, and how many mobilized to combat systemic racism in response.

“It shows just how scary and unfair the treatment of minorities in this country is,” Caraballo said.

It shows just how scary and unfair the treatment of minorities in this country is”

— Jailynn Caraballo

As for my own favorites, I highly recommend watching Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary, “13th,” which analyzes racial inequality in the U.S. It focuses on the 13th amendment, which “abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction,” according to the U.S. Constitutional Amendments website. It also highlights the disproportionate incarceration rate of African Americans. As a white person in America who will never fully understand the Black experience, this documentary was incredibly enlightening and made me more aware of the severity of mass incarceration of African Americans.

If you’d rather read, I recommend, “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race,” by Reni Eddo-Lodge. This novel deepened my understanding of white privilege and helped me recognize how conditioned white people, like myself, are blind to casual manifestations of structural racism in our everyday lives. If you’re looking for a resource that leaves you with an entirely new perspective on systemic racism in the past and present, this is for you.

Whatever you choose to view, read or study in order to educate yourself, choose wisely. It’s dangerously easy to get caught up in misinformation when our lives revolve around the media. As you’re expanding your knowledge of Black Lives Matter and its roots, realize that the occurrences today are not too different from those many years ago. Keep philosopher George Santayana’s acclaimed warning in mind: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”educa