Image via pbs.org
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.
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?