We live in truly unsettling times. First, the Coronavirus took over our lives and restricted much of our freedom. Then there’s the unfortunate death of George Floyd, whom, at 46, was robbed of his life after a police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, despite Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe.
His death caused outrage across America and the world. Celebrities came out in droves to show their support for Floyd’s family and condemn the acts of the police officers.
Michael B. Jordan marched with family and friends in a Black Lives Matter protest in California.
John Boyega made an impassioned speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in London, declaring, “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting. I ain’t waiting.”
Even Madonna joined in, despite being injured and on crutches. She led a crowd of protestors at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London.
The latest celebrity to chip in to help is Barbra Streisand, who gifted Floyd’s six-year-old daughter with Disney stocks!
John Boyega at the London protest
Beyond these support from common folks and celebrities alike still lies a troubling issue of not just racial discrimination but the lack of representation of Black Lives in America. Having Barack Obama as president of the country was a major, positive step in the right direction. But the disparity between the Obamas and the rest of the Blacks in America is too huge. This theme is also echoed in movies about Black representation. Here are six movies that everyone must watch to get past the prejudice, the misconception and the stereotypes to see the Blacks as what they are- human beings, just like everyone around them.
Queen & Slim (2019)
The crux of the story is told through the first date between a black couple, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith. It was a forgettable date, until they are pulled over for a small traffic infraction. Unfortunately, what begins as something trifle escalates very quickly, with Kaluuya’s character killing the white police officer in self-defence. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. After Floyd’s death, many Blacks have come out to share their story of being discriminated by White Police. In fact, Tiffany Haddish recently said that every time she was being pulled over by the police, she wonders if it was her “last day on earth”. This should not even be a worry, but it is.
But back to Queen & Slim. The couple on the unfortunate first date are forced to go on the run, especially when their incident was caught on video and went viral. The movie chronicles the couple’s journey on becoming a symbol of terror, grief, and the injustice to Blacks across the country.
This is a poignant tale of longing and yearning of what’s beyond one’s grasp. Partly based on the life story of Jimmie Fails, who also stars in the movie, the story centres on a young man who aims to reclaim his childhood home, which is now an expensive Victorian home in a gentrified neighbourhood of San Francisco. Joining his quest is his best friend Mont, and the two of them search for a sense of belonging in a city that seems to have discarded them.
The quiet longing, the simmering frustration, the movie isn’t a rallying cry against gentrification, but more of a plea for acceptance of those who are on the outside, looking in.
Based on the play of the same name, Luce is a social thriller that focuses on a family- the Edgars. Amy (Naomi Watts) and Peter (Tim Roth) are your average American family, except that they adopted their black son- Luce, from war-torn Eritrea. Growing up, Luce adjusted well to his life and becomes an all-star student well-loved by his community in Arlington, Virginia. One of his teachers, Harriet (Octavia Spencer) is exceptionally proud of him, holding him as a positive example for his peers.
Cracks start to show when Luce is assigned to pen an essay in the voice of a historical 20th-Century figure. His paper raises alarm bells when it makes bold statements about political violence. Harriet is concerned about the mental state of her prized student and sets out on a hunt to quell her suspicions. The movie touches on social issues, oppressed minorities and how our past and environment can shift our world. It also opens our eyes to many things that we often take for granted.
An epic and emotional journey of a suburban African-American family forms the centre of the movie. A domineering but well-intentioned father (Sterling K. Brown) leads his family on a journey that falls into disarray before coming together to find love and forgiveness after overcoming a loss. With poignant lines such as “We can’t afford the luxury of being average”, voiced by Brown’s character, the patriarch of the family, the line shows the constant pressure of black excellence shared by many black people in the world.
Amid many movies painting dismal plights of Blacks in America, there is one that shines hope. Based on the incredible true story of legendary athletic superstar Jesse Owens is Race.
Owens's quest to become the best track and field athlete in history puts him on the world stage at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. As an athlete in his college, the Ohio State University, he faces discrimination from white athletes, but he never gives up, thanks in part to his Coach, Larry Snyder, who happens to be white.
Under his training, Owens went on to win a record-breaking four gold medals at the Olympic Games despite being discouraged from attending due to Germany's discriminatory policies. Against all the odds, Owens made history and is not afraid to fight for his rights. Race is an inspiring story about hope, courage, friendship, determination and tolerance.
Green Book (2018)
The Oscar winner for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor tells a powerful story about the ugly period of segregation in America and how even one person can make a difference.
Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is a bouncer from an Italian-American neighbourhood in the Bronx. He is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), an acclaimed Black pianist on a concert tour that takes them from Manhattan to the Deep South. The pair must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the establishments in the South that do not discriminate against African-Americans. Faced with racism from the public that leads to potentially dangerous situations, the two of them forged an eventual friendship that was frowned upon back in the day, survived the concert tour, and lived to tell about it.
Coming back to Floyd, if there is anything that his death has taught us, it’s to be a little kinder, a lot more objective and look at everyone as equals.