Ava DuVernay’s 2016 film “13th” details the journey from slavery to overincarceration of African-Americans. Slavery did not end with the 13th amendment—in fact, the language of the amendment has a clause for the continuation of slavery. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime.” EDITOR’S NOTE: This slide seems unfinished and doesn’t clarify what the book specifically says about its subject.
Book: ‘How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America’
“How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” details the stunning coming-of-age story of Kiese Laymon in Mississippi, a place with an ongoing, harrowing history of racism. Laymon had infamously been kicked out of university for arguing with the school’s administration on race, and this reputation for controversy has transferred over to his writing career. Prior to publishing his second book, he had stopped working with an editor who, as Laymon told NPR, complained that “the racial politics in this is too explicit.“ Luckily, Raymond was able to find an editor who didn’t water down his experience or erase his powerful voice.
Book: ‘Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty’
Published in 1997, “Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty” shares the dark history of Black women’s reproductive rights and health. Acclaimed nonfiction writer Dorothy Roberts outlines the systemic abuses enacted on the bodies of Black women. She further elaborates on how Black women's issues were discarded throughout important shifts in the fight for equality.
Kathryn Bigelow’s 2017 drama “Detroit” follows the story of the city’s historic riot of 1967, during which a task force killed three civilians at the Algiers Motel. After being called to the motel, officers shot out the windows, entered the hotel, and abused 10 teenagers. Two of the teens were white women who were stripped and further abused. The film was given the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.
Book: ‘The Ways of White Folks: Stories’
Relations between Black and white people are told humorously in this collection of short stories. “The Ways of White Folks: Stories” was written by Harlem Renaissance legend and acclaimed poet Langston Hughes in 1934. Hughes is also considered a queer figure of that era, though he never formally came out.
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Miniseries: ‘When They See Us’
Ava DeVernay’s “When They See Us” sheds a light on the gross mismanagement of justice that took place against the Exonerated Five (previously known as the Central Park Five) during 1989’s Central Park Jogger case, one of the most notorious criminal cases in New York’s history. Under pressure to find the assailants of a woman found in critical condition after being attacked and raped, the NYPD picked up five young boys and wrongfully convicted them, exploiting racial biases to paint them as guilty.
Documentary ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’
“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” follows the personal story of eight Milwaukee families who struggle with poverty and homelessness. In the 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Matthew Desmond pairs years of research with personal stories to paint the harrowing image of poverty in the United States. In addition to giving readers an in-depth view of economic exploitation, Desmond also describes the hope that persists among its victims.
Book, film: ‘The Hate U Give’
“The Hate U Give” (or T.H.U.G.) is a novel and film about a teenage girl who witnesses the wrongful death of her best friend by police. The New York Times bestselling debut by Angie Thomas explores the polar experiences of living in a poor Black neighborhood while also sustaining the pressure of going to a school in a white neighborhood. The film won multiple awards from the NAACP, the MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Performance in a Movie, and BET Award for Best Movie, among others.
Audio project: ‘1619’
“1619” is the ongoing, Pulitzer Prize-winning audio project from the New York Times about the history of slavery and its modern-day implications, one which inspired schools to change curriculum in Chicago, Washington D.C., and parts of New York. Led by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the series faced serious opposition from some white historians. While history is often taught from the eyes of the oppressor, The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer counters, “Viewed from the perspective of those historically denied the rights enumerated in America’s founding documents, the story of the country’s great men necessarily looks very different.”
Film: ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’
“If Beale Street Could Talk” is a 2018 Barry Jenkins film based on a novel by James Baldwin. Set in the 1970s, the movie follows a woman whose partner is wrongfully convicted of a crime. Learning that she is pregnant, the protagonist seeks the support of her family in proving her partner’s innocence. The film was nominated for various awards, including Best Motion Picture (Drama) at the Golden Globes, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, in addition to countless other accolades.
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