A Time To Kill movie
Credit: Pinterest

Like many, we have been immersing ourselves in stories that give us a window into lives that are different from our own. We have a lengthy list of literature here – books to read to learn more about race and a black person’s experience in this world. We’ve brought you a couple of big stories: this one is about the Bowraville Murders as told by an Indigenous Australian whose nephew was killed by a white man and this one where we interview a lead attorney in charge of getting wrongfully condemned black men off death row in Alabama.

We also have recommended a few keys films like Just Mercy with Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan, Ava DuVernay’s Stella and If Beale Street Could Talk.

This week’s film recommendation comes from our contributing fashion features editor, Alissa Thomas.

“Like most people in their thirties or forties now, A Time to Kill by John Grisham was our To Kill A Mockingbird. A racial reckoning via fiction. The plots were far removed from my suburban Sydney childhood but the themes of acceptance and prejudice were universal,” writes Thomas.

“When it was made into a film in 1996 the graphic emotion became even more scarring. The story is of an African American father (Samuel L. Jackson) in Mississippi who avenges the white supremacists who attacked his young daughter. When the defense lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) delivers his closing statement during the father’s murder trial, he talks through all the horrific, disturbing facts of the story. She was 10. She was raped by two men. They gloated about it. The lawyer pauses and says to the jury “Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she’s white.”

“It’s an unexpected moment of heartbreaking realization. That the jury’s unconscious racial bias could be corrupting their judgement. And they knew it.

“It was a sobering thought that has stayed with me since. That racism can be quiet and slow, not just violent and loud.”

“It can fester and grow without you even noticing. It has the power to infiltrate thoughts and opinions throughout your life and be just as dangerous. The perfect example of why anti-racism is necessary over and above non-racism.”

If you’re in Australia, you can stream A Time To Kill now on SBS On Demand. If you’re in the US, stream it here at Amazon.