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10 Hollywood Films On Racial Issues In The US

From '13th' to 'Crash,' here are 10 films that address the issue of racial injustice and equip viewers with a broader and more empathetic viewpoint.

10 Hollywood films on racism.
10 Hollywood films on racism. Instagram

Films are a unique creative medium that enables storytellers to authentically convey personal experiences to a diverse audience.

In the early twentieth century, black representation in Hollywood was nearly nonexistent, and when images of African Americans were exhibited, they were given bad stereotypes and attacked with racist imagery and oppression.

While there are many great books about race and anti-racism, there are also numerous resources available in other mediums, such as cinema, that may educate viewers a lot about this history. From '13th' to 'Crash,' here are 10 films that address the issue of racial injustice and equip viewers with a broader and more empathetic viewpoint.

'12 Years a Slave'

'12 Years a Slave' is a 2013 biographical period drama film directed by Steve McQueen that is based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the North. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being freed. The film is a reminder of the brutality of slavery and the centuries-long scars it left on the societies that suffered as a result of these atrocities.

'I Am Not Your Negro'

Raoul Peck's 2016 documentary film and social satire 'I Am Not Your Negro' is based on James Baldwin's unfinished work Remember This House. The movie delves into the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin's memories of civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his own views of American history.

'13th'

Ava DuVernay's documentary film '13th' was released in 2016. The film investigates the "intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;" and is named after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was adopted in 1865 and abolished slavery throughout the United States, as well as involuntary servitude except as a punishment for a crime. It's an incredible documentary that educates and decodes racism and racial injustice in both the past and present.

'Get Out'

Jordan Peele's directorial debut, 'Get Out,' is a 2017 American horror film written and directed by him. Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford feature in the film. 'Get Out' features Chris Washington, a young black guy who meets the family of his white lover, Rose Armitage, and discovers disturbing truths. The film is a depiction of what a black person in an interracial relationship thinks when they meet their significant other for the first time.

'The Hate U Give'

'The Hate U Give' is a 2018 film co-produced and directed by George Tillman Jr., based on Angie Thomas's 2017 young adult novel of the same name. The film revolves around Starr Carter, a 16-year-old American girl, who resides in the largely black Garden Heights area but attends the predominantly white elite school Williamson Prep. 

'Do the Right Thing'

Spike Lee's 1989 comedy-drama film 'Do the Right Thing' was produced, written, and directed by him. It stars Lee, Danny Aiello, and Samuel L. Jackson. The plot revolves around the simmering racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighbourhood between its African-American residents and the Italian-American proprietors of a small pizza, which culminates in tragedy and violence on a hot summer day.

'To Kill a Mockingbird'

'To Kill a Mockingbird,' directed by Robert Mulligan, is a 1962 American drama film. Horton Foote's screenplay is based on Harper Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name. Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, while Mary Badham plays Scout in the film. In the film, a young girl nicknamed recalls how her widowed father defended a black man charged with raping a poor white woman. The film has often been recognised as a masterpiece that talks about injustice and racial prejudice.

'Crash'

Paul Haggis produced, directed, and co-wrote the 2004 crime drama film 'Crash.' The film, which Haggis describes as a "passion piece" depicts racial and socioeconomic problems in Los Angeles and was inspired by a real-life incident in which his Porsche was carjacked outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard in 1991. Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle (who also produced the picture), and Matt Dillon are among the cast members. The film discusses social and psychological topics such as racial bias, prejudice towards races, and how the situation plays a role in defining a person's choice.

'American history x'

Tony Kaye directed and David McKenna wrote 'American History X,' a 1998 American criminal drama film. The film stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong as two Los Angeles brothers active in the white power skinhead and neo-Nazi groups. The elder brother (Norton) serves three years in jail for voluntary homicide and is rehabilitated during this period, after which he attempts to prevent his younger brother (Furlong) from becoming more brainwashed.

'The Hurricane'

'The Hurricane,' filmed and produced by Norman Jewison, is a 1999 American biographical sports drama film. Denzel Washington plays Rubin 'The Hurricane' Carter, a former middleweight boxer who was wrongfully convicted of three murders in a Paterson, New Jersey bar. Carter's arrest, time in jail, and eventual release are all shown in the film.

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