Protests against police brutality have erupted across the country following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police 

By Ally Mauch
June 03, 2020 08:27 AM
Advertisement
Just Mercy
Jake Giles Netter

On May 25, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck.

The Minneapolis police officer involved in Floyd's death — identified as Derek Chauvin — has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. In the days since the incident, protests against police brutality and systemic racism have unfolded across the country.

With many people are asking to learn more about the issues at hand, PEOPLE has compiled a list of TV shows and movies you can stream to educate yourself on systemic racism.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr in Selma
Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures/Everett

Movies

Selma 

Ava DuVernay’s film chronicling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march from Selma to Montgomery, which resulted in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is a sobering historical account. British-born actor David Oyelowo imbues the icon with grace, but DuVernay’s film is most notable for portraying the civil rights leader as a full-blooded human being.

Where to Watch: FX

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans icon and a central figure in the 1969 Stonewall riots, gets a stirring tribute in this documentary about her life and mysterious death. With Black trans women being murdered in America at an alarmingly high rate (in 2016, it was estimated that the murder rate for Black trans women was more than seven times as high as that of the general population), this powerful film lifts up someone who was relegated to the margins of society for most of her life.

Where to Watch: Netflix

The Hate U Give 

The Hate U Give is based on the immensely popular YA novel of the same name. The film, starring Amandla Stenberg, follows a high school girl named Starr, who witnesses a police officer shoot her best friend.

Where to Watch: Hulu

Just Mercy 

Just Mercy follows the life of human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson. The lawyer, played by Michael B. Jordan in the movie, dedicated his career to tirelessly toward freeing wrongfully convicted inmates from death row and reforming the criminal justice system in America.

Just Mercy
Jake Giles Netter

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman, the film that earned Spike Lee his first Oscar, was based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The movie follows his story as the first African American detective in the Colorado Springs police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose a local chapter of the KKK.

Where to Watch: Hulu or HBO Go

Detroit 

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit riots, Kathryn Bigelow’s 2017 period drama recreates the real-life Algiers Motel incident in which Michigan law enforcement used excessive and deadly force on innocent motel guests — a group of two white women and 7 black men — after mistaking a starter pistol for a sniper. The movie takes place on the second day of rioting and shows how high racial tensions in the city contributed to the disturbing and inhumane action of the officers. Star Wars’ John Boyega stars as a private security guard unwillingly involved in the incident with Midsommar star Will Poulter playing the cop leading the violence. The movie poignantly recounts how each person involved was forever haunted by the trauma of the incident.

Where to Watch: Hulu

If Beale Street Could Talk 

If Beale Street Could Talk is an Oscar-winning film from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. The film, based on a 1974 James Baldwin novel of the same name, stars Kiki Layne as Tish, a woman who is expecting a baby with her boyfriend Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt when he is wrongfully arrested. Their love story is chronicled as Tish fights the justice system to get her innocent boyfriend out of prison.

Where to Watch: Hulu

Malcolm X

This 1992 biopic, directed and co-written by Spike Lee, follows the life and assassination of black activist leader Malcolm X. Denzel Washington provides a stunning performance in the titular role, depicting Malcolm X's activist career, incarceration, conversion to Islam and much more. Throughout, his childhood experiences with racism are shown through vivid flashbacks.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Do the Right Thing

Another classic from Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing was entirely shot on the street in Brooklyn where it was set, Stuyvesant Avenue between Lexington and Quincy. The 1989 film explores a single summer day in the local neighborhood. Throughout the day, racial tensions rise and culminate in tragedy.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

13TH 

In this Netflix documentary, Selma director Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, specifically focusing on the disproportionate mass incarceration of Black Americans.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers is based on a book, The Freedom Writers Diary, written by a teacher Erin Gruwell (played by Hilary Swank) and her students, who compiled diary entries about their lives in their English class. The title of both the book and the 2007 movie is a play on the term "Freedom Riders," which refers to the civil rights activists who tested the U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering the desegregation of interstate buses in 1961. 

Where to Watch: Netflix

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton chronicles the rise and fall of iconic rap/hip-hop group N.W.A in the late 1980s. At a time when hip-hop began to gain mainstream audiences, Dr Dre, Easy E, DJ Yella, Ice Cube and MC Ren bled the truth about the difficulties of being a black man in Southern Los Angeles into their music, creating revolutionary anthems such as “F--- the police.” The group’s personal lives, mixed with gang violence and legal troubles, is played out throughout the film, as the artists tackle prevalent issues such as racism and police brutality. Ice Cube and Dr. Dre served as executive producers on the Oscar-nominated film, casting Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., as a young Ice Cube.

Where to watch: On-demand through FX via a cable provider

Boyz in the Hood

The 1991 film follows three African American boys growing up in Crenshaw, Los Angeles amid the era of Rodney King. As they grow older over the years and face issues of race and neighborhood violence, impacting romantic and family relationships, the boys begin to grow apart, taking different paths to unforeseen futures. A praised coming of age drama for the black community, the film was one of the first to honestly depict what life was like for African Americans living South Central L.A., shedding light on gang culture. The Oscar-named film, directed by John Singleton, introduced the world to Cuba Gooding Jr. and also stars Ice Cube, Angela Basset, Lawrence Fishburne Regina King and Nia Long.

Where to watch: Showtime via Hulu

TV Shows 

When They See Us 

When They See Us, created by Ava DuVernay, tells the real-life story of the Central Park Five, the New York City teens who were convicted in an infamous 1999 rape case but exonerated in 2012 when the real perpetrator confessed. The heartbreaking miniseries shows how the young boys were forced by police officers into falsely confessing.

Where to Watch: Netflix

The Wire

The Wire is about the narcotics scene in the city of Baltimore, told through the eyes of both the drug dealers, users and law enforcement. Originally airing between 2002 and 2008, the classic HBO drama explores such themes as corrupt public officials, poverty and drug abuse.

Where to Watch: HBO Go

Dear White People

Dear White People, based on a 2014 movie of the same name, follows black college students at an Ivy League university as they navigate cultural biases, injustice, activism and politics.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Insecure

Issa Rae turned her comedic web series, Awkward Black Girl, into a hit HBO show in 2016. Now in its fourth season, Insecure stars the actress as Issa Dee, a woman navigating her professional and personal life in Los Angeles alongside her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji). If you only watch one episode, make it season 1 episode 3, "Racist As F---."

Where to Watch: HBO Go

Patrick Wymore/ABC

Black-ish

Black-ish follows the Johnsons, a wealthy black family in Los Angeles. Throughout its six seasons, the comedy from Kenya Barris has tackled President Donald Trump's election, police brutality, racial slurs and more issues related to social and racial justice.

Where to Watch: ABC or Hulu

BlackAF

BlackAF is another sitcom from Kenya Barris, starring Barris as a fictionalized version of himself. Each episode in the first season of the new comedy contains some form of the phrase "because of slavery."

Where to Watch: Netflix

The Chi

From Masters of None star Lena Waithe, The Chi is a coming-of-age story that takes place on the South Side of Chicago, where Waithe grew up. It follows four residents in the community – Emmett, Brandon, Ronnie and Kevin — who become linked by coincidence at the start of the show.

Where to Watch: Showtime

Good Trouble

The Fosters’ spin-off is grown up from the original series in every way but has remained poignant and powerful in its approach to social issues. The series premiere introduces the fictional story of Jamal Thompson, a black man killed by a white cop, which affects several of the main characters throughout the show’s first two seasons. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors served as a consultant on the first season’s activism and social justice storylines and moved to write for the series in season 2.

Where to Watch: Hulu and the Freeform app

Atlanta 

Atlanta stars Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino), a college dropout who helps his cousin Alfred (Bryan Tyree Henry) with his rap career.

Where to Watch: Hulu

HBO

Orange Is the New Black 

Orange Is the New Black begins when Piper Kerman, a white woman, goes to jail for money laundering. Throughout its six seasons, however, OINTB looks beyond Piper's story, exploring the backgrounds of other women in the prison and how they got there. Topics addressed include police brutality, mass incarceration and the persecution of black transgender women.

Where to Watch: Netflix

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

This Will Smith classic needs little introduction. As the show's popular theme song explains, the main character Will was sent away from his poor Philadelphia neighborhood to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in Beverly Hills. The intersection of race and class is often explored in the 90s sitcom, which originally aired on NBC.

Where to Watch: HBO Max

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.