There has been a lot of chatter about race, racism, and racial reconciliation over the past few weeks. In our media driven and social connections, it is so easy to follow the latest trends and then forget why we were initially outraged in the first place. We forget that God is outraged too, and we forget that people lives are being impacted by racial injustices. We forget that when humans die, they often have loved ones who remain. These loved ones are not following the latest trends. They are not forgetting; they are still mourning, crying, losing sleep, and possibility waking up in cold sweats. We should not forget them. As Christians, we should not forget to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.
We should also not forget that our god is a God of justice. He cares about corrupt and broken people and about corrupt and broken systems. He desires change. He welcomes repentance, and he will judge when there is none. He will one day make all of this right.
God has created all human beings in his own image, and therefore we all have value. Our lives matter. We cannot fix what we do not see or confront what we do not care about. In today’s post, I’m asking you to care about people.
In a recent article published by Christianity Today, I shared one tip for educating ourselves concerning race issues and how to move closer towards racial reconciliation:
Watch movies and documentaries. Having a racial focus in the books, magazines, movies, documentaries or other learning tools is not necessary. It is more important to hear the voices, share the experiences, convictions, life rhythms, and practices of people that are different than us. Seek material that is authored and produced by racial and ethnic minorities.
Therefore, I invite you to go to the movies. Well, you will actually need to rent or purchase these through your favorite movie viewing mechanism. In no particular order, here are 6 movies that I recommend (and 6 more are coming next week) to get started for understanding racial and ethnic issues and having important dialogs with your friends:
Why watch it: This is an explosive cast in an explosive movie. Centered in Los Angeles, it addresses everything from urban living, interracial marriage, immigration/human trafficking, social programs (the lives of recipients and the perceptions of those who receive“handouts”), corrupt cops (there are some), and the reality that there is often no cushion for men of color who make poor choices. We are human and this movie reveals what happens when we step outside of our own worlds and crash into the lives of others. This is a must watch!
- 12 YEARS A SLAVE
Why watch it: This is the personal life story of a free African American man, Solomon Northrup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in upstate New York. Solomon was a husband, father, and extraordinary violinist who was targeted when a few white men thought that he was an “uppity” Negro who thought too highly of himself. He was a man. Solomon was enslaved for twelve years where his quick thinking and family inspired him to survive the harsh conditions. We are human and this movie reveals the extreme measures people will take when the fear of progress of another race or ethnic group of people challenges their own wellbeing.
- THE HELP
Why watch it (or read it): This fictional movie addresses the racial tension between the white women of Jackson, MI in the 1960s, their children, and “The Help” or black women who serve them. I wrote an article about the movie here. The following dialog can also assist in your personal conversations: An Introduction, Racial Stereotypes, Interracial Friendships, Race and the Church, Hope for the Gospel. We are human and this movies reveals what courage looks like in the face of racial injustice. Don’t be afraid to stand up and use your voice.
- SCHINDLER’S LIST
Why watch it: This classic movie is based on the true story of the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, originally seeks to expand his fortune by taking advantage of free Jewish labor. After seeing the injustices against the Jews, Oskar begins bribing Nazi leaders so we can keep Jews working in his factory and out of concentration camps. As a result of his actions, he lost his fortune. It is believed that he saved approximately 1,000 people from death. We are human and sometimes standing up for others is going to cost us something.
- HOTEL RWANDA
Why Watch it: This movie is based on the true story of the 1994 Rwanda genocide between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes. It is about racism, political corruption, and violence. Hotel manager, Paul Rusesabagina, takes great risks to preserve the lives of over a thousand Tutsi refugees. The world stood by and watched as more than one million people were murdered over a period of 100 days. I also recommend reading Immaculée Ilibagiza’s book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. We are human and this movie reveals what happens when we stop seeing each other in that way, when we refuse to pay attention.
Why Watch it: This movie is based on the life of Jackie Robinson and his historic singing to the Brooklyn Dodgers. In this movie we see how racism is taught to and displayed before children, and we also see how people can change their perception of others who are different than them. Jackie Robinson and Dodgers executive, Branch Rickey, not only changed the face of baseball. They changed the hearts of people. I also recommend the children’s book, “Who is Jackie Robinson?” by Gail Herman. We are human and reconciliation calls for risk taking.
I have 6 more movies to share with you next Friday. In the meantime, also check out racial reconciliation expert, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s movie list today. She includes Invictus, Spanglish, Belle, Red Tails, and the Great Debaters which I also recommend. I will share about a couple of those and a few others next week.
What did you think about these movies? What other movies do you recommend?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014