Saturday, February 21, 2009

Two Good Watches for Black History Month

"500 Years Later" is a great documentary to watch for Black History Month. Instead of just focusing on blacks in the United States, historians and professors, students and professionals, follow Africans through the centuries all over the world starting from the slave trade. Blacks are not termed as African American or African English or African Belizean, but together as African descendants. Through watching this I learned that many of the race issues that African Americans face are faced by the millions of blacks around the world who have descended from enslaved ancestors. It brings up issues about the legacy of slavery, the absence of African history/philosophy/art/spirituality in our history books,  and internalized racism. The documentary is very much supportive of the pan-africanist philosophy, which was a new take for me on how to approach black identity in a white world, but it broadened my perspective about who I have been as an African American and who I want to be as an African American. 

"The Color of Fear" is a dialogue project between eight American males - black, white, Asian, and Latino - specifically discussing racism in the United States. This documentary is not about black history or Black History Month but serves as a good follow up to "500 Years Later," which left me asking many more questions about race relations in the U.S.
This film addresses and asks questions such as:
What does it mean to be white vs. a person of color in the United States?
What does it mean to be American?
What is the definition of racism?
Is there a solution to contemporary racism?

The conversation between these men forces us to redefine racism as we know it and confront stereotypes that we all have about others and even ourselves. This is a must see for every American.
Below is a trailer to the film.



Muser said...

"The Color of Fear" is very good--not always easy to watch. You might check out this film called "Something The Lord Made" with Alan Rickmman and Mos Def--all about an Af. Am. doctor who helped invent bypass surgery. Nice "historicall" film. You should have come to the Hybrid concert. Excellent blues & funk. Enjoyed your blog.

Shari Allyson Shepard said...

Thanks for the comment. I will definitely try and find those two movies. "The Color of Fear" was very good for me to watch because it allowed me to wrap my head around modern American racism in plain and simple English and instead of with an academic definition. I remember reading the article in one of my multiculturalism classes when I was an underclassmen that said something to the extent of "all whites who benefit from the color of their skin in a corporate, social, or academic sense are racist unless they actively confront it." That was really hard for me to wrap my head around even as a person of color. As a Caucasian, it would be undeniably hard to be told that you are inherently racist because you benefit from the color of your skin. And that was what I had a hard time dealing with. That definition didn't seem to be fair. This dialogue project laid it all out for me though and I liked it a lot. I hope others take the chance to watch it, as hard as that may be.