Black voices / Black history:

This is a playlist created by John Green. It contains videos on black history and videos made by black creators. The variety of content is pretty huge, varying from casual vlogs, to university lectures. It's a great playlist that covers some really important events in history, and has some truly amazing speakers, including Ibrahim X. Kendi, the author of 'How to be an Antiracist', and Carol Anderson, professor of African-American studies at Emory University. I now follow both of these people on Twitter.

I want to give special mention to the video by Beleaf in Fatherhood where two parents had a conversation with their kids about the racism they may face. It was heartbreaking to see the mother talk about it afterwards, how she felt she had taken her children's innocence away by discussing it with them. Growing up, I never had to have a conversation about how people will judge me for my skin colour. I had also never had it come up in conversation, and hadn't considered that this was something people had to do in order to feel they were properly protecting their children. This video was significant in reminding me that I didn't understand my privilege enough.

When They See Us:

This series is a retelling of the Central Park Five case that happened in America in 1989. Five black teenagers we're wrongfully accused of raping a woman in Central Park in New York. The whole time I was watching my throat was hurting. That kind of throat-hurt where you're just on the verge of crying. I can totally understand the feeling of people in the streets protesting for Black Lives Matter.
I ended up watching all four episodes one after the other. After watching the first episode, I knew it would happen. I had so much to learn, and I needed to learn now.
There were times when I questioned if any of this was exaggerated. It's a common thing to see in dramatisations of real life events, and also in almost any American series, and this was both made in America and a drama. The five teenagers, now adults, who were wrongfully imprisoned had all said that the film depicts the events accurately.

13th:

This documentary explains more about prisons for profit, a phrase I'd only heard before from rapper Akala's music. It's about the 13th amendment, which many would see as the amendment that abolished slavery. Because of a clause that this doesn't apply to people that have been convicted, this show explains that it was really just a reframing of policy, a more subtle slavery.
This was an important documentary because it confirmed what I had seen in an earlier video by Ibrahim X. Kendi so well. That the way that racism continues is through careful reframing to make people focus on different issues. The example given previously was that of voter ID laws being pushed under the suggestion that voter fraud was a problem. The 13th explains how America's mass incarceration policy is another example.
13th also talked a lot about ALEC, which I knew nothing about before. ALEC is essentially the behind the scenes law-makers for many politicians in America. They are there to produce new ideas for laws that keep the rich profiting, often at the expense of BAME Americans.
A really important change that 13th had on me personally was the evidence confirming that law-makers have actively tried to make life worse for black people. I'd always assumed that it was because people had their priorities elsewhere, for example caring about the economy more than welfare. This changed that.
The quote is below, from John Ehrlichman, who worked on the 1968 Nixon Campaign:  "You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did".

Have a question?

Message me on social media or email.

Nick Humberstone