Peck, R. (Director). (2017). I Am Not Your Negro [Film]. Velvet Film.
I Am Not Your Negro is a powerful documentary that focuses on the systematically racist, anti-black American culture in James Baldwin’s society, and in America today. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this film brings Baldwin’s works to life by exploring racism in America through his eyes, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and the systematic racism continuing to plague black Americans today. This documentary incorporates historic footage from the Civil Rights Movement, films from the Jim Crow era, and powerfully portrays this alongside contemporary American protests, race riots, and conflicts. What makes this documentary so impactful, is the way in which the issues that Baldwin spoke out against decades ago, are presented alongside the very violence, protest, anger, and turmoil still present in our contemporary society. This film can thus be beneficial for students, as it demonstrates how these historic moments are still relevant and present in our own society. As this is a long film, teachers may choose to show certain parts of it that would most benefit students in understanding the roots of systemic racism. Teachers should likewise provide students with some context about Baldwin’s works, and the role of the significant figures mentioned in this film. I Am Not Your Negro would be most suitable for senior level social studies, history, or social justice courses, as there is some mature language and subject matter. As this film focuses primarily on America’s racial society, teachers may wish to compare and contrast this film with a Canadian work of literature to bring these issues into our local context for students.
Prouty, D. & Botkin, T. (Directors). (1993). For Angela. [Film]. National Film Board of Canada.
This film portrays an Indigenous woman and her daughter who experience overt racial discrimination while simply riding the bus. In the film, this woman becomes distraught when her young daughter cuts off her braids, a symbol of her culture, because of the shame she feels when being targeted and harassed by a group of white teenage boys. The mother then takes a stand and confronts these teenagers about their hurtful, discriminatory behavior in a powerful manner. This film portrays both the impact that overt racism and racial stereotyping has on the mother, as well as her young daughter who becomes resentful and ashamed of her Indigenous identity. While this film was produced over twenty years ago, it is still a powerful, emotional depiction of Indigenous peoples’ experiences with racism in Canada. This film is an excellent resource for social studies educators to bring into a lesson that focuses on discrimination against Indigenous peoples in Canada, racial stereotypes, racism or systemic discrimination. As this is a short film, teachers can use this in junior social studies classes, most likely with grade 9 or 10 classes as this would best fit the curriculum requirements. Teachers should preface this film by providing students with context about these issues, to ensure that they have the necessary skills to conduct respectful discussions. Although the film’s outdated production may lead students to believe that these were issues of the past, For Angela can be a very impactful, useful resource, as long as teachers provide enough context, and prompt students to think about the continuity of these issues in our society.