Movies / Documentaries / TV Shows

The Hate U Give (2018)

Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives, and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between the worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what's right.

Reflection by: Arielle Warren (COM'21) 

The Hate U Give (2018) is a film adaption of the similarly titled young adult novel by Angie Thomas. The movie touches on issues of race, identity, ‘code-switching,’ and stereotypes against black people, that reflect the systemic racism in the US. I appreciate that this movie explained the complexity of black girlhood through the eyes of the protagonist Starr Carter. I liked this movie as it offered a different perspective on the topic of blackness and police brutality. I think this is a good watch as it tackles many social justice issues and displays truly human characters.

13TH (2016)

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

Reflection by: Mei Lian Coble (COM'22) 

Throughout history, the American political system criminalizes black Americans and people of color.

The 13th documentary gives a perfect explanation of how modern systematic racism stems from economic inequality, injustice, and the infringement of peoples civil rights. These issues date back to less than 60 years ago. I highly recommend that you watch this documentary along with Just Mercy (2017), to start learning about how the US has justified the killings of black Americans. Understanding the hypocrisy and the discrimination that black people face every day is the first step to making a change.

Just Mercy (2017)

After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian's life.

Reflection by: Juliana Griesback (COM'22) 

This movie was based on the book by the same title written by Brystan Stevenson and is based on a true story. The film is set in the ’50s and follows the trials of William McMillian, who was sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit. I read the book before watching the movie, and it was just as emotional to watch as it was to read. 

Moving forward, I will be taking a BU political science class on race and the criminal justice system to learn more, as well as do my part to educate myself on how to promote change in the system.

Crime + Punishment (2018)

Amidst a landmark class-action lawsuit over illegal policing quotas, filmmakers use footage recorded over the course of four years to chronicle the real lives and struggles of black and Latino NYPD officers.

Reflection by: Mei Lian Coble (COM'22) 

Crime + Punishment is a documentary by BU alum, Stephen Maing, which documents the criminalization of minority groups in New York City. The investigative documentary follows officers attempting to expose unlawful police-quotas. Watching this documentary showed me how susceptible minority groups are to these "false arrests." These false arrests mark these individuals for life even after all charges are dismissed. Please watch this documentary if you are interested in understanding why minority groups are often put in the spotlight for being criminals.Do not be mistaken. Many minority arrests are targeted attacks on people of color and groups who can't afford to get the justice they deserve. 

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017) 

Filmmakers re-examine the 1992 death of transgender legend Marsha P. Johnson, who was found floating in the Hudson River. Originally ruled a suicide, many in the community believe she was murdered.

Reflection by: Maria Fernandez (COM'21) 

This documentary reflects the life and death of the transgender activist, Marsha P. Johnson, who was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992. Although police ruled her death a suicide, her friends suspect she was murdered, demanding “Justice for Marsha.” Through the investigations conducted by Victoria Cruz of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, who investigated violence against the LGBTQ community, it is clear how much of an influence Marsha had. Her impact was profound despite the amount of discrimination against the transgender community and the lack of gay rights at the time. 

Moonlight (2018)

A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

Reflection by: Lily Zhao (COM'21) 

At some point, there comes a time where you need to decide for yourself who you're going to be. The main character Chiron does exactly this throughout the film. As he grows up, Chiron is plagued by the systematic racism, discrimination and bullying that gradually contribute to his pain. The emotions are authentic and profound enough to make you ponder.

Is it because he has nothing more to say or because the world never listens to him?

Did he choose to be trapped in a world of drugs, or was he not given any other choices?

You will find your answers after watching Moonlight.

LA 92 (2017)

 

Examining the tumultuous period following the verdict in the Rodney King trial in 1992. The acquittal of four police officers for beating a black motorist saw several days of protests, violence and looting in Los Angeles.

Reflection by: Mei Lian Coble (COM'22)

This documentary tells the events of the Rodney King riots, how they occurred, and the civil unrest that ensued using real footage taken from the time period. LA 92 has some very vivid photography and video of police brutality from the LA riots which can be hard to watch. I wish I could say it was new to me but police violence and racial inequity has been present in our nation since its founding. While it's easy to condemn protesters, rioters, and looters, people often forget or fail to understand the full scope of the issue. What I love about this documentary is that they contextualize the events by showing you the court hearings and demonstrating the failures of the judicial system leading up to the riots. 

When you watch this documentary, you start to see a lot of parallels between then and now. I'm angered that after 30 years, the LAPD has failed to learn from their mistakes. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives will always matter. These conversations and issues aren't new, but needs to change. We need to learn from our past. I didn't know much about the LA riots before watching this documentary, and I highly encourage that you give it watch when you get a chance. Until we find true equity, and justice for all, no one is or can be safe. And if you think you are--watch LA 92, understand your privilege and start empathizing with the struggles that black people have faced time and time again. 

Reflection by: Gabrielle Aberson (COM'23) 

This series features interviews with struggling drug addicts, teenage runaways, gang members, and the homeless to show people outside of these groups how difficult it is to get out of their current situation. This documentary showed me how little help people in these situations receive from the police, family, and friends. 

 

I’ve also learned how important it is to create a stable family environment for a kid when they’re growing up; a lot of what the interviewees talked about is  focused on how much of an impact their childhood had on them and a lot of those interviewees weren’t accepted for who they were by their family or friends which was heartbreaking.  

 

This documentary style mini-series highlights an aspect of America that people tend to ignore or not fully educate themselves on, so I wanted to give these episodes a try. I would highly recommend this mini series because it is a great way to broaden your perspective on issues of homelessness.

Soft White Underbelly (2020)

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