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How Art Can Help Educate Us About Racial Injustice

BY: Sakib Tariq

Across the span of 18 years at the Minneapolis Police Department, Derek Chauvin generated 18 complaints with the MPD´s internal affairs department. According to an MPD internal affairs public summary, out of the 18 complaints, only 2 resulted in discipline for Chauvin. The disgraced ex-officer was filmed murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020. The outrage caused by the cold-blooded murder led to demonstrations that were held across the United States. African American artists have put their views on social injustice over all forms of art over centuries. What's left behind is a plethora of films and literature that can be used as a source of learning. One cannot have a complete understanding of the racial discrimination that black people face in America unless they are an African American themselves, however, for those who seek to be informed in a better manner, looking towards the arts is a great place to start.

The esteemed director and New York Knicks superfan, Spike Lee, created a classic with “Do the Right Thingin 1989. The Brooklyn based film depicts racial tension between an Italian restaurant owner and the black community. The deep message behind the Spike Lee Joint continues to strike a chord today. Spike Lee was also responsible for directing the biopic of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, based on the autobiography titled “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. The film was widely recognized as one of the top 10 greatest films of the 1990s. Denzel Washington shined in the tribute to the civil rights activist. Ava DuVernay´s remarkable Netflix documentary, 13th, delved into the race issues surrounding the nation's prisons. The masterfully produced documentary deserves all eyes and ears for its entirety.

Many of the current bestsellers dig into police brutality and racial violence. Angie Thomas created the fascinating young adult novel ¨The Hate U Give¨ about a young girl who witnessed the death of her friend at the hands of a police officer. The “Sesame Street” picture book “We’re Different We’re the same” preaches the message of unity to a younger audience. A professor of history and international relations at American University, Ibram X. Kendi, wrote: “Stamped from the Beginning”. The book discusses over 4 centuries of structural racism and inequality. Kendi recurved the 2016 National Book award for nonfiction with his work in this book.

It is of utmost importance that we as people strive to educate ourselves on societal issues. While social media offers glimpses of vital information, it is literature and films that contain the largest mass of information and perspective that we need. Seeking to educate ourselves and staying informed will allow us to connect with a world that is much bigger than ourselves.

*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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