Black Lives Matter: five shows to educate yourself

10 mins read

There is a historic movement happening right now. The world is protesting for equality for all, in opposition to the unjust police brutality against black lives.

For many, there might not feel like there is a lot to do. But there is always something to be done, such as donating to worthy causes or sparing a few minutes to sign petitions. There is also literature to indulge in if you’re more of a reader.

However, the most important thing is to educate yourself on the matter.

It’s not the job of a person of colour to be educating you. Not when you have the means to be doing this yourself. Yes, questions are okay, but take the initiative. Show that you have the will to learn yourself rather than listening to others.

All you need is a streaming platform. It can be as easy as kicking back and watching a series focused on black lives. Here are six dramatic series to start you off, each focused on black people living different lives.

After all, dramatic portrayals can be educative too. They’re always somewhat inspired by someone’s reality or experiences.

Such is the life of a person of colour.

Dear White People

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The show focuses on bi-racial college student Sam White, a young woman determined to acknowledge racial oppression and history. Every episode focuses on a different character, giving viewers a beautiful range of perceptions and experiences.

This is important because no experience is the same. Yet, it all stems from the same point; a black-face party that is exposed by a black student. Wherein the guests are writers from a predominantly white humour magazine called Pastiche.

It’s definitely a “woke” show that calls out white privilege and micro-aggressions. However, this also contradicts Sam’s character because she hides her secret white boyfriend. It calls to question whether the controversy surrounding mixed-race couples still exists, and why.

It’s a very eye-opening portrayal of a black students experience and how they integrate within a predominantly white college. The way in which mixed-race couples interact, but also how the negative stereotype of being black can impact a young adult’s identity.

Do not be put off by the controversial name. But is it controversial? It’s a message for everyone, but especially white people.

Dear White People seasons 1-3 are currently available on Netflix.

Black-ish

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This is more a comedy series, but very educational. Black-ish is focused on a black American family that is admittedly privileged and wealthy.

Black-ish centres on Andre Johnson, a successful advertising executive. Alongside bi-racial doctor wife, Rainbow, they’re raising four children. They are a family who worry that they are assimilating too much into their wealthy and predominantly white community.

This is something that revolves throughout the progressive series, highlighting problematic issues within the series, as well as typical concerns like if they’re spoiling their children. However, these problems make good entertainment.

Because it allows us to learn and grow alongside the characters.

In a sense, it’s very revolutionary. Yes, it’s a comedy but it tackles race issues without hesitation. It’s a very bold representation of racism, especially in issues such as colourism. Not only are they called out, they are addressed.

The series entertains the struggle of all black people.  Even those with comfortable lifestyles. However, it highlights the importance of black culture and identity.

But it still stays light-hearted. Through all the confronted issues there is still warmth in the series. It is, after all, still a family sitcom. However, it is educational about black history and the difficulties of keeping a black identity in a very white world.

Black-ish Seasons 1-5 are currently available on Amazon Prime.

Pose

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Ryan Murphy’s Pose is an era-defining series. It shines an important light on the transgender community. Setting the scene in New York’s 1980s ballroom and voguing world.

It is especially praiseworthy because the cast is inclusive of black transgender and LGBTQ actors.

The dragball culture is beautifully aesthetic but the struggle is all too real. There is a difficult family dynamic throughout the series, a fierce rivalry between ballroom houses.

Behind the glitter and the glamour is a darkness. The AIDS crisis is a threat against all our beloved characters. However, the hope in the series shines a light through it. We’re given strong characters who prevail against this very real fear.

This makes space for characters to chase their dreams, something that is difficult for black and gay people in this time. Especially when discrimination against the transgender community is so alive. Sexuality is challenged within the series, and so is the harsh realisation of trans lives.

They instead chose to love and live. It’s an incredibly inspiring message to watch. To see these characters fight against oppression and stand with pride.

Pose seasons 1-2 are currently available on BBC iPlayer.

Black Lightning

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Black Lightning is based on the DC comics. It’s an entirely relevant story about a black superhero, something that entertainment appears to be severely lacking in. However, Jefferson Pierce is a public-school principle.

He’s an inspiring character who fights for his students. In the midst of a gang-infested city, Jefferson Pierce holds a beacon of hope. By night, he’s the retired vigilante Black Lightning, protector of Freeland.

However, a hero always finds a cause to wear the suit again.

It has a raw portrayal of the injustices black people face, such as being pulled over meaninglessly by the police or strong opinionated black women being labelled as aggressive.

Speaking of, black women are strongly represented. Jefferson’s two daughters, Jessica and Anissa, are fighters for freedom and strong in their own right. Jefferson’s wife, Dr Lynne Stewart, is also a woman of strength and determination.

Making him a hero with something to lose is inspiring. He is a father but a fighter. Jefferson wants to create a world that is safe for all black people, to make sure everyone has a future that is not oppressed by outdated stereotypes.

Black Lightning seasons 1-3 are currently available on Netflix.

When They See Us

Credit: Ourweekly.com

This is a limited series based on true life events. It’s a brutal watch focused on the 1989 Central Park Five case, where five black and Latino school kids were illegally coerced into the confession of a brutal rape.

The series focuses on real life men. Antron McCray, 15, Kevin Richardson, 15, Yusef Salaam, 15, Raymond Santana, 14, and Korey Wise, 16, who were publicly demonised for a crime they never committed.

When They See Us demonstrates a heartbreaking loss of innocence. But there are small glimpses of joy and optimism throughout. It carries a tone of hope and inner strength that should be applauded.

It’s a viciously necessary series and as close as white people will come to this experience. It’s painfully enlightening. Especially of what people of colour experience in police custody. It shows an astounding abuse of authorial power.

Because it wasn’t just entertainment; it’s a representation of someone’s reality. Everyone should watch the series. It will make you angry, it will make you scared. And it will remind you of your own privilege.

When They See Us limited series is currently available on Netflix.

Featured image credit: Freepik.com

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