Films and series directed by blacks to understand racism in the USA

Films and series directed by blacks to understand racism in the USA

In the past decade, black directors and female directors have found a prominent place within the North American cinema. In a time of great discussion of the racism around the world, which triggered the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a white policeman, cinema can be an excellent way to understand the history of racial prejudice in this country.

The list includes movies and series that discuss the most varied faces of racism through different moments in history: from slavery to the present day. See below:



Direction: Steve McQueen.

12 years of slavery

did not win the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’ for nothing. The work was based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The story begins in 1841, when Solomon, a free black man, is kidnapped and enslaved. The film shows how even free blacks in the United States did not have peace of mind and were still seen as properties. The film is a dive into the sad reality of slavery, showing in detail the physical and psychological abuse.


Direction: Ava DuVernay.

Ava DuVernay

The film is based on the march organized by Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) in 1965, who would leave the city of Selma and go to Montgomery asking African Americans across the country to guarantee their vote.

Although the Civil Rights Act is already in place and the segregation has ended, many governors, like George Wallace in Alabama, still do not allow all blacks to vote for their states.


Direction: Ava DuVernay.

films about racism

is the only documentary on that list. It analyzes the prison population in the United States and their growth since the end of slavery. With expert analysis and testimonies from politicians, the film shows how mass incarceration and racism have always gone hand in hand in the North American country.


Direction: Jordan Peele.


established Jordan Peele as one of the great directors of the current generation. The 2018 Oscar-winning ‘Best Original Screenplay’ plot consists of Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) visiting his girlfriend’s family home. Despite being considered terror, the work is extremely deep and has racism as its central theme.

Unlike most of the list, the most addressed aspect of racial prejudice is the appropriation of black bodies by whites. The film revolves around the white view that his race is intellectually superior, while the black is physically privileged.


Direction: Spike Lee.

Infiltrates in the Klan

is one of Spike Lee’s masterpieces. Based on the autobiography of Ron Stallworth, Colorado Springs’ first black cop, the film won the Oscar for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’.

Lightly, it tells the story of Ron (John David Washington) and his partner Flip (Adam Driver), who work undercover at the Ku Klux Klan. During work, the two are forced to pretend naturally in the face of the horrors practiced by the organization, while Ron must face racism also within the police.


Direction: Barry Jenkins.

If Beale Street Could Talk

After winning the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’ with, Barry Jenkins brought in another great movie the following year.

Based on the novel by James Baldwin, the film tells a love story interrupted by a case of police racism. Unjustly accused of rape, “Fonny” (Stephen James) is arrested and his girlfriend Tish (Kiki Layne) tries, with the help of his family, to share the attention of his pregnancy with efforts to prove the innocence of his beloved. In parallel, she recalls the trajectory of the couple’s romance.


Direction: George Tillman Jr ..

The Hate You Sow

Based on the novel by Angie Thomas, the film tells the story of teenager Starr (Amandla Stenberg), who witnesses the murder of her best friend by a police officer. Death generates a wave of protests and the main character is under pressure to assume a relevant role, however, she fears its exposure in the media.

Despite presenting a language similar to that of teen films, the story is extremely heavy, pointing out the different aspects of racism in the United States. As fictitious as it is, the work is excellent for analyzing what happens today in the North American country, and the protests are very reminiscent of those that have occurred since the death of George Floyd.


Direction: KasiLemmons.


The film returns to the 1840s to present the real and sensational story of the slave Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo), who manages to free herself and decides to help hundreds of other blacks whose freedom is being deprived.

The work is essential to understand the transition to the liberation of slaves in the United States, which was gradually taking place, taking much longer in some states than others.

The feature film shows the struggle of blacks and blacks against governors who insist on maintaining slavery. The film also goes through the American Civil War, in which Harriet played her part. Candidate for last year’s Oscar for ‘Best Actress’, Cynthia puts on a real show.


Direction: Spike Lee.

Detachment Blood - Spike Lee

The film was one of the new features of Netflix during the quarantine and is having great success. It tells the story of 4 black Vietnam veterans who return to the Asian country in search of the remains of their former commander and a treasure.

The work brings an exciting adventure along with a strong criticism of the way in which blacks were used in a war that did not concern them, while their own people died in droves within their country.


(2017- currently)

Direction: Justin Simien.

Dear White People

Originally, the series is based on the film of the same name, both written by Justin Simien. The work depicts the life of a group of black students at an elite university. Combining humor, drama and suspense, the series presents divergent views of the fight against racism within the black movement.


Direction: Ava DuVernay.

Condemning eyes

This four-episode miniseries tells the real story of the “case of the five in Central Park,” five black teenagers arrested in 1989, accused of rape that they did not commit. The series brings all the details of this revolting story and it takes a lot of stomach to watch it.


Direction: Nicole Asher.

The Life and History of Madam CJ Walker

The four-episode miniseries tells the incredible real story of Madame CJ Walker, the first woman to become a millionaire in her own right in the United States. The series takes place at the beginning of the 20th century and counts the difficulties, not only of being black at the time, but mainly of being a woman within the black movement itself.

Madam Walker, brilliantly played by the irreverent Octavia Spencer, obtains its success through a hair products company focused on black women. The businesswoman seeks the empowerment of these women through her brand.