Films That Teach {Racism}: “Slavery and the Making of America”

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This post is part of a new series on Multicultural Familia called, “Films That Teach”.  You can follow the series by clicking clicking the tag “Films That Teach”  If you have a recommendation for an upcoming feature, please add it to the comments! 


Slavery and the Making of America

One of the best films series I’ve probably ever seen, I think this is the ultimate disc series to give the avid anti-racist.  There is a wealth of information here that few films can match.  Between historic and social elements in these films, you’re sure to come out of it with a fair balance of knowledge about the experience of slavery in America and the mechanisms behind the machine.

I’ve watched the series more than once and the second time I viewed it, I was older and in college taking my first African American history course.  Yes, my first!  Proof that there is far too little emphasis on African American history in our schools and for those of us (particularly white Americans) who often don’t grow up in the know, it’s a major disservice to us all.

This series really opened my eyes.  While I thought I’d understood racism and slavery, after seeing a host of films like Roots, Rosewood, etc.  All I can say, is that they don’t educate individuals well enough on the mechanisms and systems that allow racism to operate and keep it moving forward.  It’s helpful that we feel bad and don’t want to continue the cycle that brought about slavery, but how can we really understand how to dismantle racism if we only teach about the hate and learn nothing about the calculated moves by powerful political bodies that actually created it.  Racism isn’t just about “disliking” a group…it’s about creating a situation in which a group is denied basic human rights.  It’s a system that seeks to dehumanize individuals in an attempt to rationalize self-serving pursuits and greed.  Racism is NOT about liking or not liking members of a group, it’s about domination, oppression, disparaging and dehumanizing.  PERIOD.

Teaching about racism requires tools, and in my opinion, this is an excellent resource to keep in your arsenal.  Consider it part of your battle armor against white privilege and internalized racism.  I highly recommend watching it at least once.  It’s available on Netflix and can be found through select libraries or education networks.  It’s definitely worth tracking down if you can’t afford to purchase, but if you can, it’s well worth the investment.


Learn more about Slavery and the Making of America.  Purchase your own copy for your home library or community center.


If you’ve seen this series, I’d love to hear your opinions about it.  What did you learn?  Are there any other books or films that you would suggest?




  1. Danielle Charise McM says

    That video is amazing! It also has a wonderful book I am reading that talks about the same topic. My name is Danielle and I just stumbled upon your blog. I would love for you to check out my blog I am an illustrator working on a project about slavery, its connection to the whaling industry and the Underground Railroad!  I agree with you that many things are not taught in school. I learned most from my parents and additional reading on my own. With the invention of the internet we are fortunate to have more access to information but I believe it is still not taught in school to the amount it should. I'm hoping with my art I can bring it to more people's attention and educate many that are unaware of the history. Wonderful blog post!
    All the best,
    Danielle C. McManus

    • says

       @Danielle Charise McManus Thanks so much Danielle!  Very cool that you're a contributor to 'The Art of Urban Sketching'.  I keep hearing about this book!
      Looking forward to reading more of your blog!  :)  Thanks for sharing!