Watching movies is a good place to start (yes, START) our education on racism. It’s palatable, accessible and ahead of the protests around Australia tomorrow, it might be an idea to flick on a film tonight for some added context to why we’re marching tomorrow.
Today, NYC-based freelance writer Erin Van Der Meer is spotlighting Ava DuVernay’s 2014 outstanding drama Selma and how it helped shape her understanding of a black person’s experience in this world. Based in Alabama city in 1965, the film follows how Martin Luther King (played David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery to protest a black person’s right to vote.
“Intellectually I knew ‘Bloody Sunday’ – when white police officers beat and teargassed peaceful black protesters in Selma, Alabama in 1965 – was a shameful moment in American history,” writes Van Der Meer. “But when I watched Selma, the 2014 historical drama by DuVernay (a woman of colour), I had a visceral reaction – nauseated by violence, heart in my mouth for the protesters, weeping at the loss, pain and eventual triumph – that has stayed with me ever since.”
“The Selma protest marches, spoiler alert (it was 55 years ago, if you don’t know by now, that’s on you) resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act, a piece of federal legislation which prohibited racial discrimination against voters in the United States,” she continues. “If you’ve fallen into apathy or helplessness lately, Selma is worth a watch (or re-watch) in 2020 as a reminder of how everyday people can successfully fight for a more just world.”
Just as former president Barack Obama said yesterday in a town hall address to America, “remember that this country was founded on protest — it is called the American Revolution.”
DuVernay has been very vocal about the current events surrounding George Floyd’s death. Her latest post really landed with me and is worth a follow.
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Usually police who murder disappear. We don’t remember their names. We don’t know their faces. They move from one department to another. They get paid while being investigated. And then the investigations never lead anywhere. The statistics on them being held accountable are dismal. We need to hold them accountable. We need to not let them retreat into the dark. So I’ll use my page to make sure we remember these faces. And these names. These men murdered George Floyd. We cannot depend on internal police review on these matters. If we trusted the false initial police report, George Floyd would have joined millions of unjust, untried cases. We can’t depend on the judicial process. If we could, more murdering officers would be imprisoned. We can only depend on ourselves. They cannot hide from our attention, our scorn. Not now. Not in the future. Not anymore.
Please be safe tomorrow. Protest peacefully.