Give “Roots” a rest and explore black history through films that capture more than just certain moments.“Roots” plays on repeat on just about every television at some point during Black History Month. Yes, Black history includes chattel slavery, and stories about the Middle Passage and such. And, yes, “Roots” depicts the era better than any other film could — it’s just not the only film about Black history that’s been made in the modern age. Sitcoms like “Blackish” have created shows with historical points as themes. There have been several films that depict people and events that are pivotal to the liberation of Black people as well as cinematic documentation of how a people demanded and received equal rights as white Americans enjoy. Here’s a list that will take you from slavery to modernity in Black history. You can find them on Amazon Video, Google Play, Hulu, Vudu, and YouTube.
Marathon-Worthy HistoryThis is the era of streaming several episodes in one sitting, or straight-up watching a whole season. Fortunately, there’s some exciting content that you can stream for Black History Month. “Underground” is a show that ended abruptly in 2017 but is a thrilling look at the life of slaves and the Underground Railroad. Enjoy 20 hour-long episodes that are based on historical events and include a historic character that will keep you glued to the screen. Go back further in Black History with “The Book of Negroes”, a Canadian show based on a real journal of Black slaves who fought for the British during the American Revolution and were rewarded land in Nova Scotia for their loyalty. The miniseries follows a slave who was taken from her village as a young girl and follows her as she becomes the voice for the loyalists and their interests. Marathon the six episodes over a weekend or space them out throughout the month.
Movies About Famous Black PeopleFrom the women who formulated the first trip to the moon to the men who courageously flew bombers in World War II, Black people have made their invisible marks in history. Through the magic of modern cinema, those invisible deeds are exposed in movies that are dramatic, thrilling, and just as entertaining as they are educational. The most recent of this list is “Hidden Figures” about the Black women mathematicians whose work was vital to the program in the early days. “Red Tails” follows a group of Black pilots during World War II as they bravely fought for a country that was drowning under Jim Crow governance at the time. “The Butler” is a look inside the White House during the vital Civil Rights era. The point of view, however, is through the eyes of the Black man who served the Presidency and knew all its secrets. “Glory” goes a bit further back to capture the torment and the bravery of Union soldiers in the Civil War. “Southside with You” is a light-hearted look at the epic first date of the most beloved Black couple today — the Obamas.
Tackling on-campus is complicated, here are some practical tips for students looking to create sustainable change.By Gloria Oladipo When will this foolishness end? Real talk though. At Cornell University, my current schooling, there have been a number of “racially insensitive incidents”. In the past 4 months “Build a Wall” has been chanted at the Latino Living Center, an African-American student was beaten while being called a “nigger”, and anti-semitic posters were hung up around campus. Oddly, I don’t feel surprise or shock, but I do feel a constant disappointment that this is the world we live in. Adding onto my disappointment is the lingering feeling that nothing can really be done to make campuses a safer space for marginalized students. As for the faculty, bureaucracy and hollow olive branches have been the forwarded responses. The main strategy has included plastering fliers reading “Hate has no home here” across campus, as well as the creation of various sub-committees. The student response has been a slew of protests, occupation of board meetings, and lists of demands. While I applaud the actions of students as kinetic compared to the sedentary pace of the faculty’s, all of these actions still leave me wondering: “Is this it?”. I wanted to write this article as a pseudo-instruction manual to students, trying to suggest strategies to more effectively combat the racial climate on campuses, but then I thought: “I also don’t know what to do.” There is a question I still struggle with: How are we, as students, supposed to actively combat our own feelings of powerlessness by fighting against racism while also acknowledging the structures that prevent true change in the first place? So after curating responses from older folks and different community members, I melded them with my own thoughts to create a shortlist of opinions regarding the role of students:
It is up to institutions of higher education to protect their most vulnerable students.One of the greatest values of a college education is the opportunity to live, work, and study with people from completely different backgrounds. It exposes you to new ways of thinking, living, and opens your perspective beyond your own upbringing. When colleges take measures to properly orient students for this experience, meaningful dialogues and greater cultural awareness occurs. Too often, campuses fail to provide sustainable support and marginalized students are the ones who suffer the most. Such was the case at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where a white freshman named Brianna Brochu created such a hostile living environment that her Black roommate, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, was forced to move out. As Rowe was leaving, she was made aware of social media posts where Brochu called her a “Jamaican Barbie” and bragged about contaminating her personal items with bodily fluids throughout the month and a half they’d been living together. It was then that Rowe went public in a Facebook Live video and demanded that Brochu be held responsible for her racist bullying and harassment. She accused the campus of attempting to sweep the incident under the rug by quietly arresting Brochu without alerting her. She also spoke of ongoing medical issues as a result of Brochu’s abuse and being forced to come out-of-pocket for health services on campus. Rowe later told local radio station WTIC that school officials threatened to remove her from campus for speaking about the incident publicly. It was only after Rowe’s video that Brochu was arrested by Hartford Police and expelled from campus. Brochu confessed to third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace; both minor charges that carry a maximum sentence of six months each. Police then added a charge of intimidation based on bigotry or bias to Brochu’s case, a hate crime charge. Many argue that Brochu should be charged with attempted murder for essentially poisoning her then-roommate. The National Fair Housing Alliance issued a statement saying the harassment may be in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Inviting Betsy DeVos is highly disrespectful towards students who have benefited from public education, as well as the students who are trauma survivors.By Montez Jennings I graduated from University of Baltimore (UB) in 2016 and as a former student I was rather surprised to hear that current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos was invited to speak at Fall 2017 commencement. Current UB President, Kurt Schmoke, decided out of all of the people in Baltimore city, Maryland and the DMV area, that DeVos would be the best person for the job. The same DeVos who doesn’t believe in public education and wants to rewrite the rules of Title IX in favor of accused rapists. After moments of disbelief, it’s safe to say my alma mater beyond disappointed me. I remember my time at the commuter school — many who are familiar with the university knows it was initially for the working person offering an array of classes at night — however, the culture has shifted between its founding in 1925 and now. The school welcomed a few more areas of study and a lot more young Black and Brown kids, even going from a two-year school to admitting freshman. I attended the university two years after being a student at a private Catholic single sex school. UB has its niche and its flair, being the modern, somewhat liberal university stationed in a thriving intersection of the city.