How to Educate Yourself on the Black Lives Matter Movement

“File:Black Lives Matter (49975206972).jpg” by Taymaz Valley from Ottawa, Canada is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed Black man, at the end of May protests have spread throughout the U.S. and internationally. Millions of people across the globe have been horrified by the actions of a white Minneapolis police officer who held his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as he gasped for air, calling out “I can’t breathe.” 

The video of Floyd’s death has since gone viral online and not only sparked protests, but one of the biggest civil rights movement in history. As the momentum of this movement continues to grow, it is important to keep donating to organisations, signing petitions and protesting peacefully in our communities. However, it is also equally important to keep the conversation going, as we – in particular, white people – educate ourselves about the movement and about Black history and white privilege in order to be a better ally.

Below is a starting point for that education, which is in no way complete.

Books

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard to talk to white people about race // Robin Diangelo

Professor of Whiteness Studies, Robin Diangelo shows us how we can start having more honest conversations with each other and how to listen and react to feedback with grace and humility. 

So, You Want to Talk About Race // Ijeoma Oluo

Despite the media spotlight at the moment, racism is still a tough subject to bring up with friends, family and other peer groups – especially when questioning racist behaviours – this book hopes to start honest conversations about race in America. 

Me and White Supremacy // Layla F. Saad

By interacting with its audience, this book challenges them to recognise and understand their white privilege and how they participate in white supremacy so that they can eliminate any harm they cause to Black, Indigenous and people of colour. 

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir // Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement are routinely compared to terrorists and labelled as threats, but in this empowering memoir Khan-Cullors and Bandele show the strength and resilience of the movement and those behind it. 

How to Be an Antiracist // Ibram X. Kendi

In this book, Ibram X. Kendi shows how it is not enough to just not be racist, “we have to be antiracist.” He explores where racism is hiding in everyday society, how to identify it and what to do about it. 

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race // Reni Eddo-Lodge

In a continuation of her 2014 blog post, award winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge writes about how discussions of racism in the U.K. are being led by those who aren’t affected.

Read More: My Pride Month Reading List: 6 Black LGBTQ+ Authors To Read

Adaptations

Dear White People, Netflix

Set on the campus of an elite American university, the series follows several Black students through their time at college and examines modern American race relations. 

Sitting in Limbo, BBC

Based on the Windrush scandal; Anthony Bryan is detained by the Home Office and threatened with deportation after living in the UK for 50 years. 

When They See Us, Netflix

Five young boys are wrongly convicted for the gang-rape and near murder of Trisha Meili, a woman who was jogging in 1989. This is a true account of the Central Park 5.

Snowfall, Amazon

Set in the early 1980s, the first crack epidemic is about to hit the streets of LA and impact the city’s culture. The series revolves around Franklin Saint, a new young dealer. 

Self-Made, Netflix

Inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, Self-Made is a fictionalised depiction of the Black hair care pioneer as she became the first Black, self-made female millionaire. 

The Hate U Give, Amazon

Based on the best-selling novel by the same name. A young teen witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a police officer and must decide whether to testify or not. 

Documentaries

The Death & Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017), Netflix

This documentary investigates the mysterious death of Black gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson in 1992.

 Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory (2015), YouTube

The documentary opens with the protests in response to the shooting of Mike Brown by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014 before going on to analyse the prison and justice system that discriminates against the Black community. 

13th (2016), Netflix

 An in depth look at the American prison system, exploring racial inequality and the mass incarceration of Black people in which the loophole in the 13th amendment paved the way for modern day slavery.

Time: the Kalief Browder Story (2017), Netflix

Six-episode docu-series that recounts the story of Kalief Browder, a Black high school student who was imprisoned on Rikers Island for 3 years without ever being convicted. 

I Am Not Your Negro (2016), Amazon 

Based on an unfinished manuscript of James Baldwin – American novelist, playwright and activist – the film explores racism in the US through Baldwin’s accounts of civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Let the Fire Burn (2013), Amazon

A film about the events leading up to a stand-off between MOVE, a Black liberation group, and the Philadelphia Police Department in 1985.

Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement (2016), YouTube

A documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement and the events that led up to the uprising of the movement. 

Who Killed Malcolm X? (2020), Netflix

An examination of various theories surrounding the assassination of civic right activist Malcolm X, including that it was a set up by the FBI. 

Podcasts

Black Girl Podcast

Five Black women in the entertainment industry come together to speak about their experience in life. The most recent episode features Clarke Peters, star of Netflix release Da 5 Bloods, to discuss Black mental health, Black freedom and the need to share more Black experiences on screen.

Historically Black

This podcast brings together interviews, archival sound and music to discuss objects that hold history and the stories that they tell. 

Noire Histoir

Natasha McEachron celebrates Black pride and excellence and features Black history facts, literature and stories about prominent Black figures in the podcast named “Black History” in French.

The Nod

Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings tell stories of Black life that aren’t ordinarily told elsewhere. The hosts examine Black culture and the “beautiful, complicated dimensions of Black lives.”

While Black

This podcast educates on knowing your rights and how to stay safe as a Black activist, as well as what to do if you’re approached by a police officer. 

Yo, Is This Racist?

Focusing around fan call ins, this documentary answers questions and queries from the public about whether or not something is racist.

1619

An audio series from the New York Times, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones. Examines how slavery transformed and shaped America. 

Social Media

@ukisnotinnocent, Instagram

A Birmingham (UK) based community organisation spreading information around protests, petitions and other resources to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

@laylafsadd, Instagram 

Author of New York Times Bestseller Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad is a writer, speaker and podcast host who discusses topics of race and social change.

@MunroeBergdorf, Instagram & Twitter

Bergdorf is a Black trans model and activist who was let go by Loreal as a brand ambassador after speaking out about racism in 2017. 

@blmuk, Instagram

The official page for the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK. A coalition of activists across the UK who believe deeply that All Black Lives Matter. 

@rachel.cargle, Instagram // @RachelCargle, Twitter

Cargle is a writer and lecturer specialising in the intersection of race and womanhood. She often dissects misinformation online and even posts draft email templates to send to local representatives or employers.

@mireillecharper, Instagram & Twitter

Writer and editor Mireille Cassandra Harper has written in depth resources for those learning how to be an ally, including “10 Steps to Non-Optical Allyship” and “Where to Donate Now and Later.”

@DavidOlusogaI, Twitter

British-Nigerian Historian, David Olusoga, is a Professor of Public History at University of Manchester as well as a BAFTA winning TV presenter/producer for Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners.

Red Table Talks, Facebook Watch

Frank and honest discussion with host Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris and special guests.

  • The Racial Divide: Women of Colour and White Women (Season 1 Episode 14)
  • Interracial Marriage with Ellen Pompeo (Season 1 Episode 18) 
  • Unpacking White Privilege and Prejudice (Season 1 Episode 25) 
  • Colourism: Why Black People Discriminate Against Each Other (Season 3 Episode 8) 

It is important to note that some streaming services, such as Netflix, have put together carefully curated new collections on their platforms called Black Lives Matter which contains plethora of other titles to continue learning about Black experiences. 

This list is just a starting point on how we can educate ourselves on the Black Lives Matter movement and how we can become better allies to the Black community. Please use this list as a springboard to becoming better informed and find other resources to add to your own To Read and To Watch lists. But most importantly, take the time to de-centre yourself and really listen to the voices of the Black community.

Words by Kate Goodyer

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