Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
If you haven’t already read Gay’s Bad Feminist, do yourself a favor and pick it up this weekend. Broken into five sections (Me; Gender & Sexuality; Race & Entertainment; Politics, Gender & Race; and Back to Me), she explores being a feminist while consuming and loving content that seem at odds with that ideology. Remember, it’s not feminism if it’s not intersectional.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
When Morrison passed away last summer, the country mourned the loss of an incredible novelist. It’s unclear to me why this book isn’t considered required reading in grade school. Following her escape from slavery, this story explores the life of Sethe and her relationship with her daughters.
Another Country by James Baldwin
How James Baldwin is also not considered required reading is beyond me. If I had to learn why Walt Whitman is important (I’ll be honest, it didn’t stick with me) then I should have also been fed the words of someone whose work still resonates decades later. In this novel, Baldwin tells a story that spans from Harlem to Greenwich Village, exploring interracial love, sexuality, race, pain, and suicide.
Released exactly a year after the Ferguson Protests, this biopic documents the meteoric rise and fall of the rap group, N.W.A. Obviously the music throughout is incredible, but the film also confronts the harsh realities of police brutality and being Black as N.W.A finds their voice in 1980s Compton.
One of my favorite Spike Lee joints, I appreciate this film for its cultural impact and the message that has stood the test of time. It gets heavy, lines are drawn and crossed, but it will also amp you up if you’re looking for motivation to get active. Long Live Radio Raheem!
This powerful and racially charged film reflects the world today’s teens inhabit. In the adaptation of Angie Thomas’s bestselling novel, Amandla Stenberg plays Starr, one of the few black students in her private high school. She witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a cop and must decide whether to testify.
This is a powerful true story about the Equal Justice Initiative and the importance of confronting injustice. The best selling book and feature film starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx follows a young lawyer, Bryan Stevenson and his battle for justice as he defends a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence.
Selma is a chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and his pursuit for equal voting rights, centered on the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Starring David Oyelow as Dr. King, the story follows his dangerous three-month campaign to secure equal voting rights, culminating in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If you need a film to spark some major inspiration, check this one out this weekend.
Set at a predominantly white Ivy league school, the series follows a group of Black students as they navigate a landscape of activism, cultural bias, and systemic racism within their university. Provocative, incredibly well written, and thought provoking; I’ve been a fan of this show for a while, if you haven’t seen it, add it to your Netflix queue stat. If you have, 100% worth the re-watch.
I understand this show was cancelled because the budget was insane, but I lived for it. The series follows a group of friends in the South Bronx during the rise of hip-hop and disco. At the same time in the last 70’s, their city is faced with political corruption in ways that affect everyone directly and immediately. On their rise to fame, they learn that their choices have greater impact, even if at first only on a local level.
One of us (me) gets teased for how often some of the recs cause me to cry. This series is no exception. Pose is groundbreaking, heartbreaking, brutally real, and necessary. It’s also vibrant, uplifting, celebratory, and so many good things. The highs are high and the lows are low, but it’s absolutely worth investing your time in. We owe so much of our culture to the Black LGBTQ community – watch this show to learn how voguing and balls started!
This Ava DuVernay miniseries tells the story of the Exonerated Five (formerly known as the Central Park Five). It is a must-watch that will make you scream at the TV as it follows the true story of five men who were wrongly convicted of the rape of a white woman in 1990.
The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by NYT Magazine that re-examines the legacy of slavery in the United States; this podcast is just one aspect of the project. Earlier this year, Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for The 1619 Project.