Better Films to Help You Understand Systemic Racism by Erinda Ratchford, 14


NEW YORK—Recently, movies like “The Help” and “The Blind Side” have been trending on social media platforms because they can “help people understand systemic racism better.” I’m here to tell you why that is not the case. While these are great movies to watch on a rainy day, “white savior” films are not the direction you want to start in to educate yourself. While the movies are comical and good to watch for enjoyment purposes, they are not good for educational purposes. A “white savior” is a white person that tries to “fix” a person of color’s (POC’s) situation without understanding what they truly need or their history. White savior films place white people in a heroic light and focus on the white voices in the movie.

To truly educate yourself on systemic racism you should begin by supporting Black filmmakers. Black made films are particularly enjoyable because of the unique perspective they have on life. Watching these films can open your eyes to the struggles and the oppression African-Americans face so often. Most people choose what they want to see around them; so, this is a chance to see and understand how important this matter is. Not only can you learn from a different perspective but you can also expose yourself to more Black filmmakers and actors. This kind of exposure is important because the viewer can learn from the filmmakers’ personal experiences. The attention directed towards the movies gives the filmmakers a bigger platform to share their opinions.

Here is a list of movies and TV shows to educate yourself on The Black Lives Matter Movement and systemic racism:

The Hate U Give

“The Hate U Give” is a movie that represents exactly what police brutality and systemic racism are through the eyes of Starr Carter, the protagonist. The viewers follow Starr on her journey to cope with the killing of her childhood best friend while she lives a double life with her friends from home and school.


“13th” is a documentary about mass incarceration, the 13th amendment and the prison system in the United States. Like the other films on this list, it also discusses our nation’s history of racial inequality. 


The movie “Selma” is a complete record of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s three-month campaign period in 1965 that led us to an equal voting rights system. The movie’s title relates to the famous march conducted during the 18-day-period from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. King’s efforts led President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


“Moonlight” is a movie about an African-American boy named Chiron. The movie depicts Chiron (aka Little) growing up in a drug and crime-ridden Miami. His mother is under the influence of crack so he finds a home with a drug dealer and his girlfriend who help raise him. Throughout the movie, Chiron discovers his sexuality as a gay man while dealing with his own pain.

If Beale Street Could Talk 

“If Beale Street Could Talk” is about an engaged couple by the names Tish and Fonny (Alonzo Hunt) living in Harlem during the early 1970s. Pregnant Tish is separated from Fonny when he is falsely arrested for raping a Puerto Rican woman. 

The Great Debaters 

“The Great Debaters” is a movie about the poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson who teaches at Wiley College in 1935. He has the idea to create the college’s first debate team. Melvin struggles to get the team started, but eventually, the team is composed of promising students who compete against Harvard’s debate champions.

Just Mercy 

“Just Mercy” is about a Harvard law graduate, Bryan Stevenson, who is on a mission to advocate for those who are wrongly condemned in Alabama. His first case, Walter McMillan, was charged with a death sentence after allegedly murdering an 18-year-old girl.

Dear White People 

The television show “Dear White People” is about Samantha White, a mixed student at Winchester University. Sam runs the radio show “Dear White People” which dives into racist incidents on campus. Her story surrounds how her friends “clap back” at racists while finding their own love lives and their individual family dynamics. The three seasoned show is full of surprises and constant humor while discussing difficult topics.

When They See Us 

“When They See Us” is a television show based on the famous and tragic story of the Central Park Five. A jogger was raped in Central Park and five teens were wrongly arrested for the crime in 1989. The short show explores the teens’ exoneration and eventual settlement for $41 million dollars.

From reading this article and, hopefully, watching the movies and TV shows, I hope you gained a better understanding of what African Americans struggle with and an overall understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement and what it stands for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.