By Jadyn Barnett
In the age of COVID, many people, like myself, are faced with the inevitable brunt of boredom that comes with so much free time on our hands. Being stuck in the house all day can be exhausting, but having a good lineup of shows and movies to binge over the week makes all that extra time worthwhile. In light of the racial tensions all across our nation, I’ve compiled a list of 8 movies and shows everyone should watch in order to educate themselves on the Black experience, all while being completely entertained and submerged in the world of Black entertainment.
1. When They See Us (2019)
This limited time mini series, co-written and directed by Ava DuVernay, is a timeless
must-watch that depicts the very true story of the infamous Central Park Five. Beware! This one is heavy and definitely a tear jerker, but nonetheless deserves all the praise for its
immaculate depiction of such a pivotal story to African Americans all across the country.
2. 13th (2016)
Here we have another grappling piece of work directed by Ms. Ava DuVernay. In this
documentary film, DuVernay delves into the deep dark history and current events of
racism, (in)justice, and mass incarceration in this nation stemming all the way back from
the 1600s. The Oscar nominated film will spark conversations from things from the
crooked prison system in America to the War on Drugs. It’s definitely a think piece!
3. Dear White People (2017)
In the Netflix Original series, followed after the original Dear White People film, the
story begins at a fictitious PWI Ivy League university and follows the small population of
African American students as they deal with issues of all kinds, from racism, relationships,
and school work. I love this show so much and have faithfully kept up with each season
and I highly recommend it!
4. Time: The Kalief Browder Story (2017)
This mini docu-series produced by Jay Z, follows the story of Kalief Browder, Black teen
from the Bronx, who sat in prison at Rikers Island for 3 years, without a trial or
conviction, on the assumption that he stole a single backpack. Much like When They See
Us and 13th, this series is an informational introspection into the injustices that the Black
community on a daily basis. This is a heavier one, but nevertheless, definitely deserves
5. Who Killed Malcom X? (2020)
This mini docu-series explores the mystery that is the murder of Malcom X. It has been
decades since the assasination of the civil rights activist and icon, Malcolm X, and not
much is to show for the justice of his murder. For all my true crime junkies out there, this
one’s for you!
6. LA 92(2017)
Though this documentary covers the 1992 LA riots and was released in 2017, it is of
utmost relevance in today’s climate. The film covers the aftermath of the Rodney King
trial. Many people have used the analogy that George Floyd is to us, what Rodney King
was to Black people in the 90s. If you’re looking for a parallel and informational film to watch,
I really suggest looking into this documentary.
7. Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap (2018)
In the last episode of the first season of “Explained”, Cory Book, the 1st African American U.S Senator of New Jersey, does a deep dive into what is known as the racial wealth gap. He does an amazing job of explaining how things like slavery, housing/living discrimination, and hundreds of years of racism and inequality all contribute to the racial wealth gap and are the reason why Black people are playing catch up with the white population. If that doesn’t sound
interesting and insightful, I don’t know what will! The episode is a quick 16 minutes and
it is definitely worth every second.
8. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
For all my romance-obsessed movie lovers, this one’s for you! Based on the James Baldwin novel, the film follows Tish and Fonny, childhood friends and present-day lovers. The couple is engaged, but things quickly turn sour as Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. For the sake of not spoiling anything, I will just say it is my favorite movie of all time and I definitely encourage you to watch!
I will stop the list right there, only because I know I could go on and on about Black film and television. I hope this list satisfies all your quarantine cravings and leaves you ready to binge more! If you enjoyed this list, Netflix now has a Black Lives Matter tab, full of tens of thousands more shows and movies telling the stories of our people, ready and waiting to be watched.