On Black Lives Matter: History, Information, and Perspectives

By Helena Reinders

Must have reads, podcasts, and more.

It’s not about Black Lives Matter, it’s about learning what that means.– Frederick Joseph

Oftentimes, popular TV-shows and dramas quickly brush over the subject of police violence in the US, especially towards its black citizens. Take for example ER, season 9 episode 16 – A Thousand Cranes. During the episode, which aired first on February 20, 2003, two doctors of the Emergency Room are seen being arrested, charges being that they are black and thus a possible suspect for a recent murder case. During their arrest, the episode focuses on the excessive amount of violence the cops use against them. Most shockingly, it is shown how one of the doctors is held against the ground by several police officers, a boot in his neck. How much more concerning is it that now, over 17 years after its first airing, these kinds of practices are still occurring in the United States. 

Naturally, it is important that regular shows standstill by the ongoing excessive police violence black US citizens have endured and are continuously still enduring. However, what if you want more than a subplot in one episode? That is where this article comes in. Building upon the article written and recommendations given by Yasmina Al Ammari, this article seeks to provide you with books, series, podcasts, documentaries, and so much more on the Black Lives Matter movement and the history of African Americans in the US. 

“Contrary to popular conceptions, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Instead, they were devised and honed by some of the most brilliant minds of each era.” – Ibrahim X. Kendi

Winner of the 2016 National Book Award For Nonfiction, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America seeks to educate people on the history of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Written by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices. He has written about racism in the US countless times, in the form of books and academic articles. As explained through his 2019 book How To Be an Antiracist, it takes more than being against racism to fight it. Kendi explains that in order to fight racism, one must become an antiracist. This means that you try to reset your entire thinking towards race and actively try to counter the stereotypes conditioned into your through life. It means to actively try and think of people and their actions by solely looking at their actions. Rather than simply saying you don’t judge based on race, it means to actively think about the decisions and stereotypes you might encounter through your daily life. For those who want to be educated on African American history and on how they can help fight antiblack racism, any book or article written by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is one we recommend. 

What to the American slave is the Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is constant victim. – Frederick Douglass, 1852

As quoted by Professor Jonathan Holloway, during his course on African American History, this quote from Frederick Douglass is to this day still painfully accurate. For those who want more than a book, Yale University provides an open online course that can be found here. Through 25 short lecture themes such as the reconstruction post-civil war, African Americans’ urbanization experiences, and prominent African American leaders will be discussed. Important to keep in mind is that the course was recorded in 2010, meaning it might be slightly behind on recent events. Furthermore, the course warns for graphic content and language. This goes to show the severity of the issue at hand. Not only does Yale provide the lectures, but it has also given the entire course syllabus. This includes all articles and book which correspond with the course and subject. A perfect starter kit for those who want to educate themselves on African American history.

This one’s for you, white folks. If you’re at home wondering what you can do to make change, let this be your first step.” – Rosa Cartagena

In light of the most recent developments regarding protests, many new sites have popped up to help people understand the situation and what they can do to help the Black Lives Matter movement. What’s more, is that many existing sites and organisations have set up new initiatives. One of these new initiatives is a guide, provided by the US The National Museum of African American History & Culture. They have put a web-portal online, which provides free educational resources and tools, designed to help people start the conversation on race and racism. The web portal can be found through this link. After all, who better to learn from than from those who have been dealing with and experiencing the problem? 

Do you want to educate someone who does not want to be educated? Maybe a Netflix series could be just the way. Apart from Netflix series being an easy way into learning more about racism in the US, they also provide more context to the issue. While most of us have heard of 13th or When They See Us, documentaries like Teach Us All and Strong Island are lesser-known. Strong Island is a true-crime documentary about the murder of a black teacher by a white mechanic, who was judged not guilty by an all-white jury. Teach Us All is a documentary about the ways in which present-day high schools in the US are still very much segregated, most notably by means of funding and quality of education. A recommendation by Lauren Griesedieck is to also watch series such as Dear White People and listen to music regarding the BLM movement and police violence. For those who do not know where to find such music Lauren provides us with a Spotify Official Playlist, which you can find here.  

The last recommendation is to listen to the podcast Code Switch, which can be found through this link. The podcast journalists of colour who are not afraid to say the things that need to be said. Covering the most recent developments in the US, African American history, and many more subjects, Code Switch looks at race from all angles.  

If you are still wondering about more ways to learn and to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement, we recommend you to check out these two links: 

https://blmsites.carrd.co/ ; A link which provides lists of websites, petitions, and ways to help.

https://mobile.twitter.com/halfatlanta/status/1266758671628894208?s=21 ; A twitter thread of books and articles which concern police violence, civil rights movements, and US imperialism. All links provided give access to free and downloadable sources. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM; A link to a youtube video of which all profits go towards supporting the BLM movement. 

Naturally, we also advise you to look at the previous article (On Black Lives Matter) by Yasmina Al Ammari for more interesting book recommendations and helpful links to donate and show your support to the BLM movement and protests. 

Black lives matter.  

Stay safe. 

Fight for justice.

Image from the BLM movement