4 Things To Watch That Spark Constructive Conversation About Racism

Want to talk about racism, but not sure how to get the conversation going? Here are four things you can watch to spark a constructive conversation: Jane Elliott’s Brown Eyes Blue Eyes, 13th, Little Fires Everywhere and American Son

Laura Thomas Sonn

AfterBuzz TV Host & Writer
Posted On: June 11th, 2020 10:52 pm pst

Maria Menounos
Keven Undergaro
AfterBuzz TV Founders

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV is the artist-friendly entertainment news platform that celebrates, discusses, interviews, promotes and reports on the widest range of stars, creators and content through video, audio and article publications.

During the course of the past few weeks, while I’ve watched the same tragic video of a nearly-breathless George Floyd calling out for his Mama replayed over and over again, I’ve also watched friends in LA, New York, the Bay Area, Chicago and here in Nashville kneel next to strangers in peaceful protest of Floyd’s murder. I’ve had heartfelt, insightful and even uncomfortable conversations with my family, my spouse, and my peer group about my own shortcomings. And, as a result, I, like so many others, have made a commitment to evolving the way I think, talk, and treat the idea of racism in America.

There are a wealth of resources coming together right now in the name of this evolution. Many of them are not new, but are receiving the spotlight they deserve in light of recent events. The sale of books like ‘White Fragility’ and ‘How to Be An Antiracist’ are topping the best-sellers list. Podcasts like ‘You Had Me at Black’ and “About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge’ bring tough conversations and true stories told by young Black Millennials to the forefront of the audiosphere, almost always with the same basic agenda: to spark, generate and continue the conversation about racism. 

Film and television is also contributing to the conversation. Here is a list of some of the most interesting and thought-provoking things to watch today.

The Experiment: 

Jane Elliott’s Brown Eyes Blue Eyes Experiment (US, UK & Australian versions)

Watch on YouTube

If you watch nothing else, take 45 minutes and watch this. This was first sent to me by friend, activist and fellow AfterBuzz TV journalist James Maple. Jane Elliott, the teacher who calls herself “the resident bitch,” first performed her Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment in her Iowa classroom on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. After a white student asked why MLK was shot, she decided to allow her white students to feel what discrimination felt like and divided the class into Blue Eyes and Brown Eyes. The Brown Eyes were shown favoritism through things like extra lunch helpings and more time at recess, while the Blue Eyes were relegated to sit in the back of the class and told that their intelligence was directly linked to melanin, the pigment that determines eye and skin color.

Elliott expands her theory on racism in day-long experiments in which a group of people are divided into the same Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes groups and shown the same favoritism or discrimination. The result is often a mixed bag of emotions: crying, storming out, being asked to leave the experiment, arguing with Elliott – all in the name of defending their own understanding of racism and their part in it. Once Elliott shoots down phrases like “I don’t see your color” and “White people have to conform to society as much as Black People,” the conversation and belief systems within begin to turn, and a change begins to take place.

For more on this, please look for James Maple’s article released on AfterBuzz on Friday, June 12th.

The Documentary:

13th 

Watch on Netflix

Ava DuVernay, the award-winning director behind Selma and When They See Us, brings us her  documentary, 13th, which has shot to the top of just about everyone’s Netflix home screen in recent days, and for good reason. DuVernay takes a harsh look at the American prison system and how it is disproportionately filled with African-Americans as a result of systemic racial inequality. The title, which refers to the 13th amendment in which slavery was abolished in the US, adequately alludes to the history lesson which this documentary feels like, first examining the history of slavery in the US and moves into a conversation about the “war on drugs and crime” that lands 1 out of every 3 young black males in the prison system at some point in their life, arguing that “mass incarceration is an extension of slavery.”

The Oscar-nominated film was then followed up with 13th: A Conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay and can also be seen on Netflix. 

The MiniSeries:

Little Fires Everywhere

Watch on Hulu

Celeste Ng’s novel, set in real-life Shaker Heights, Ohio, was adapted for the screen and tells the story of an affluent white family and the self-made pillars of the Shaker Heights community. It also details their relationship with their Black artist-tenant, Mia Warren and her young daughter, Pearl. The miniseries painfully paints a picture of a struggling matriarch, Elena, as she deals not only with her teenage children navigating their world, but also with her own desperate attempt to not be or appear to be racist. It’s a sometimes brutally honest depiction of what passive racism and classism looks like in so many affluent neighborhoods in America, and the struggle many people face, even now, about their own involvement and contribution to racism.

The miniseries stars Reese Witherspoon as Elena and Kerry Washington as Mia and can be streamed on Hulu. 

The Play-turned-Movie:

American Son

Watch on Netflix

Set in Miami on a rainy night, this film starring Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale and Jeremy Jordan, tells the story of a biracial couple who are trying to learn the whereabouts of their son, Jamal, who has not returned from an evening out with friends. When a rookie cop arrives at the Ellis-Connor home to respond to the report, he tells Kendra, Jamal’s mother, that there was an incident that evening involving a police officer and 3 young black males, but is not able to tell her more information. FBI agent Scott Connor, Jamal’s father, then arrives and while the worried parents seek to learn more information about their missing son, they also confront the deep-seeded issue within their marriage of their experience raising their biracial son in their affluent community and the challenges that come with that. 

These films are meant to spark conversation and elevate our understanding of racism in America, the part we play in it and how we can ultimately change it. What films are you watching that are sparking new conversations in your daily life? I’d love to hear, so let us know!

We here at AfterBuzz TV are in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement, so please continue to tune in to our network daily for more coverage!

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence

“We don’t just celebrate and cover the top shows, content and stars, we celebrate and cover ALL the shows, content and stars.”

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About The Author:

Laura Thomas Sonn is a host & writer for AfterBuzz TV by day and a mom of two by, well, all the time whose obsessions include all things Bravo, a cold glass of rosé, and teaching indoor cycling at Cyclebar. She currently resides in Nashville

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