I’ve never been ashamed to call myself a millennial, despite the public’s constant bashing of Generation Y. According to the world we’re entitled, money-hungry dreamers with no sense of work ethic. I find that hard to swallow because I’ve been working since I could get working papers. Anyhoo…I digress. It wasn’t until MTV released the results of a survey where they polled millennials between ages 14 and 24, that I felt embarrassed by my millennial existence. The study found that 88% of millennials oppose affirmative action because they “believe that favoring one race over another is unfair” and “90% believe that everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.” There “was no statistical difference by race for” these responses.
They also found that 70% (74% of whites and 65% of minorities) of millennials surveyed believe “it’s never fair to give preferential treatment to one race over another, regardless of historical inequalities.” 48% of whites believe that “discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against racial minority groups.”
WHAT and WHAT?!
I can’t be the only person born between the ’80s and 2000s who knows history and has heard about figures like Emmett Till, or more recently, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis or the countless amount of Black people discriminated against, even killed because of their race. Clearly MTV’s study pool has to be suburban kids who have no clue about the real world…at least I hope for the sake of history and civilization that they were.
In utter disbelief, I thought of my upbringing. Throughout my childhood, my parents had a lot to say about racism. And when I say a lot, I mean…ALOT. It was understood, in my house, that being Black is an experience only Blacks can understand. As I grew up and faced the world and the workplace, that motto became more real than ever. To be frank, racism still exists even if MTV’s millennials don’t think so. I feel saddened that they haven’t been taught about the depths of Black oppression because that means we’ve failed to keep our history alive.
But don’t worry my millennial peers, racism has been documented in film, TV, books and etched into the minds of civil right beacons who will never forget.
Since film is an effective teacher, I’ve chosen 20 movies about race, that my parents had me watch, that helped open my eyes to the harsh realities of African-American life.
They’re horrid tales, but films that should be seen nonetheless. So the next time you hear someone say “no more slave movies,” remind them that our history may not be reaching the youth and so maybe the films that explore racism in history are actually beneficial.
Here are 20 films post-racial millennials need to see ASAP (in no particular order):
1. Movies About Racism
These 20 films show the harsh realities that African Americans had to endure.
This 1977 mini series is a MUST WATCH. The story is based on the book (which is a must-read) by author Alex Haley which was a dramatization of his family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement in Africa to his descendants' liberation in America.
This heartbreaking tale is a dramatization of a 1923 horrific racist lynch mob attack on an African-American community.
4. "American History X"
In this 1998 film, a former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.
5. "12 Years A Slave"
Unless you were living under a rock in the last year you've heard about the 2013 Oscar-winning movie that's based on the true story of Solomon Northup, who detailed his experience is an 1853 memoir.
6. "Higher Learning"
The acclaimed John Singleton directed this 1995 movie that featured an ensemble cast including Omar Epps, Laurence Fishburne Tyra Banks and Ice Cube. The story takes place on a University campus where students encounter racial tension, rape, responsibility, and the meaning of an education.
In this 1989 historical drama that earned Denzel Washington his first Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) a white colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, leads the US Civil War's first all-Black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates. But it was really a long overdue ode to the Black men who fought on the Union side.
8. "Miss Evers' Boys"
This story about a group of Black subjects who were used in the US Government's 1932 Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiments and allowed to die despite there being a cure that was developed for the syphilis disease, will leave you in tears. The film shows how Blacks were used as test monkeys to develop a cure that they would ultimately have no access to.
9. "The Butler"
See life through the perspective of the hired Black help in this legendary Lee Daniel's film that showcases the life of a former sharecropper turned White House staff men. The film highlights the importance of dedicated servicemen back in the day and how they influenced the perception of African Americans in the civil rights era.
10. "A Bronx Tale"
Interracial dating may be accepted now, but in the 60s it was extremely frowned upon. The '93 film "A Bronx Tale" follows a young Italian-American teenager as his path in life is guided by two father figures who don't approve of his Black girlfriend.
11. "Tuskegee Airmen"
Before "Red Tails," the Tuskegee Airmen's story was told in the 95 film "Tuskegee Airmen." Through their dedication and sacrifice, Blacks were able to establish themselves as combat pilots in the United States Army Air Corps, that fought in World War II.
12. "Django Unchained"
Not your conventional slave movie, "Django Unchained" brings a comedic approach to slavery, but doesn't spare the horrific lynchings and brutal realities that slaves faced.
13. "Mississippi Burning"
"Missippi Burning" may be a film about two FBI agents with wildly different styles arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists, but the journey through which they find justice is a vivid depiction of racism in the 60s.
14. "Ghosts of Mississippi"
This film--about the pursuit of justice in 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medger Evers and how his widow and a district attorney struggle to finally bring the murderer to justice--is a rousing story that highlights the tenacity of African Americans in the justice system
In the film "Crash," Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption (IMDB).
16. "MALCOLM X"
"MALCOLM X" is a must-see film that exposes the political plight of controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, Malcom X, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam and his assassination.
17. "Driving Miss Daisy"
"Driving Miss Daisy" went against the misconception that Blacks and Whites could not get along. The 1989 film explores the relationship between an old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South.
18. "A Time To Kill"
This classic film is a true depiction of the injustices African Americans faced when a young lawyer defended a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the KKK.
19. "The Great Debaters"
With the help of a professor at Wiley College Texas in 1935, a group of African American students went on to challenge Harvard in the national debating championship. "The Great Debaters" is a tale that proves Blacks can accomplish they same as Whites even through adversity.
20. "The Help"
Like "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "The Help" showcases the lives of the in-house workers who struggled through racial divide, like having to use separate stalls and use designated silverware. It also shows the disadvantage Blacks faced in that era.
21. "Do the Right Thing"
Spike Lee's drama about a hot summer day filled the racism is a classic depiction of the ghetto and rivalries between races. The epic race rant scene showed how different races viewed one another.