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5 Netflix documentaries to learn more about racism

Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, by a police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for almost 9 minutes, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is taking over the streets, newsfeeds and Instagram stories worldwide.

But the movement has been reaching its boiling point for a few months already ever since video images emerged of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23. Ahmaud was jogging in broad daylight when three white residents followed him with their pick-up truck and executed him in the middle of the street. Another case that sparked the demand for justice is the murder of Breonna Taylor who was brutally shot by Police who raided her home by mistake on March 13.

Cover photo: Seppe Elewaut at Black Lives Matter protest Antwerp.

If you take a closer look at our own country, you see that Belgium didn’t really play a leading role when it comes to acknowledging racism and its colonial past either. Racism has been a part of our society for so long, that most people don’t realise that it is still happening today. It seems like most people are misinformed about what racism is, what the consequences are for the victims and how Belgium's colonial past is still influencing peoples way of looking towards people of color today.

Luckily the protests of the past weeks sparked peoples interest into learning more about racism. We think that it is crucial to be informed so here are 5 Netflix documentaries that give you an educated look at racism and its many faces and consequences.


A documentary that gives us a glimpse into structural racism and the economical forces behind it is ‘13th’, a documentary by filmmaker and director Ava DuVernay.

In a series of interviews with politicians, civil rights activists, and historians we get to see how the US prison and legal rights system is a continuation of slavery. The title ‘13th’ refers to the 13th amendment, a loophole in the United States Constitution that makes this possible.

The 13th amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story

A tragic mini docu-series about student Kalief who was wrongfully accused of stealing a backpack. His family was unable to pay his bail that was set at 10.000 dollars leading to Kalief spending 3 years in jail, more than half of which was spent in solitary confinement.

As a result of the mental, physical and sexual abuse in Rikers Island, Khalief committed suicide 2 years after a judge dismissed all charges against Browder.

“ReMastered”: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke

In this documentary, we see the story of musician and civil rights activist Sam Cooke.
With his passion for rhythm and blues music, he tried to get a grip on social issues like racial performativity. Sam was shot in a motel room in circumstances that left a lot of questions unanswered.

The documentary portrays the story of the murder and does not exclude the different perspectives and conspiracy theories surrounding the death of this powerful personality of the civil rights movement.

Strong Island

Filmmaker Yance Ford tells the story of the murder of his brother William Ford. Yance looks back at how an unarmed William was suddenly turned into the prime suspect in his own murder case and how an all-white grand jury set the actual shooter free.

I am not your Negro

This Oscar-winning documentary illustrates very well how racism has been around for a long time. Raoul Peck directed this documentary based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin from the ’70s.

“The story of a Negro in America is the story of America, it is not a pretty story...”

James Baldwin was a novelist, playwriter, and activist who wrote about racial, social, and sexual issues. The script of Baldwin shows us the clashing history of racism in America.

Want to watch more? Following the protests, Netflix also made a Black Lives Matter playlist with a collection of films, series and documentaries.

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