In my own journey to learn more as a result of the BLM movement, these are a few of the resources I recommend. (I am not paid for any of these.) For a more comprehensive list, check out the Ally Resource Guide.
Samuel L. Jackson matches his usually booming voice and delivery to James Baldwin’s as he reads from Baldwin’s letters and unfinished book, Remember This House. The book and film are a grief-infused homage to a trio of leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Medger Evers, all of whom were murdered between 1963 and 1968. Director Raoul Peck collages footage, images, FBI notes from the period to show the horrors of the time. In the days of BLM, not enough has changed.
Baldwin’s argument logic is convicting and structurally beautiful. His style of delivery and oratory are powerful but not preachy or punishing. As an example, here is a powerful quote from the movie which is also in the trailer:
“The white population of this country’s got to ask itself is why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place because I am not a nigger. I am a man. But if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it. And you got to find out why. The future of the country depends on that.”James Baldwin
This movie gets 10 stars on a 5 star scale.
Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast episode with Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi is the author of How to Be an Antiracist (NYT Best Seller). Brené and Kendi talk about the abuse of the idea of race as an explanation for all the bad things or good things that happen to a person of that race.
Kendi traces this back to a book written by Frederick Hoffman, an actuary, called The Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro. Hoffman characterized African Americans as especially disease prone and attributed the cause to the color of skin rather than to poverty.
Kendi defines a racist as someone who explains things as a product of race and racial hierarchy. An anti-racist is someone who actively resists explaining things as a product as race and supports racial equity.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
I read and reviewed this NYT Best Seller in 2016. Here’s a brief excerpt from that review:
“If one part of our community is afraid of injustice, then our whole community is not healthy.”
- “My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth: the opposite of poverty is justice…The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”
- “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated….the closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice and – perhaps – we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”
Read more here.
Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989. EJI’s mission is criminal justice reform, racial justice, and education. In their own words:
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.EJI website
I’m not done learning and listening. Beliefs shape our behavior. It’s important to have the right ones. So let’s do the work. And I’m excited about how this will unfold.