Protests have peaked in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, and the future of America is more uncertain than ever. With social media flooded with images of inequality and injustice, a lot of Americans find themselves stuck feeling helpless in their homes. For many, the health risks of joining a large protest in the middle of a pandemic are too high to bear. And with unemployment skyrocketing, it can be hard to scrape together the money to donate. One thing people can do, however, is to continue to educate themselves.
Educating yourself through literature, social justice accounts, and documentaries can help even the most enlightened individual gain a better perspective on what’s going on in the world. To get you started, we’ve gathered a list of some of the best social justice movies to stream on Netflix right now.
A powerful documentary from Ava DuVernay, 13th shines a light on a twisted interpretation of the Constitution’s thirteenth amendment. As it turns out, there is actually a loophole in the amendment that permits the practice of slavery in certain contexts, including prison confinement. Taken together with the fact that American prisons are overwhelmingly populated by African-American men, it may be a good idea to have a notepad and a rag next to you as you watch this film: one to take down choice phrases for inclusion in a strongly worded letter to your congressman, the other to chew on as the injustice gets your blood boiling. The National Review called 13th “politically correct” and “cowardly,” which may be all the endorsement this film needs right now.
Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (2017)
This American documentary directed by John Ridley is a deep look at a rather tumultuous decade in Los Angeles. The film dives into the ten years leading up to the 1992 uprising that erupted after the verdict of police officers being cleared of beating Rodney King. The similarities between then and now are hard to look away from, and this doc does a good job of giving you a look into the perspectives of both the black community and the police during these riots.
Malcolm X (1992)
Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated movie sheds light on the life and struggles of Black Nationalist Malcolm X. The film follows him from his early days through his conversion to Islam. If you’re looking to learn from the struggles of prominent historical figures, this is one of the best movies on Netflix to help you do so.
V for Vendetta (2012)
While this movie takes place in a fictional dystopia, the main themes are eerily relevant to what’s happening in the world right now. In the Year 2032, the united kingdom is under the tyrannical rule of the Norsefire Party. Those who oppose the government are killed, and the “truth” has become a weapon to control the people. The film follows a shadowy freedom fighter that goes by “V” as he plots to overthrow a tyrannical regime. Don’t be fooled by the flashy action scenes, however, the true purpose of V for Vendetta is to give us a terrifying look at what can happen if a government falls under fascist rule.
Based on a novel by Hillary Jordan, Mudbound is a grim drama following two families — one white, one black in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s. The forces of economic and racial dynamics breed tension between the two, and the situation becomes more volatile when World War II comes to an end and Jamie McCallan and Ronsel Jackson return to their families, changed by their experiences in the war. Beautifully filmed and attuned to the complexities of American society, Mudbound is a compelling drama about racism in America.
Written by Jacob Kienlen for The Manual