The Anti-Racism Starter Pack: TV Series, Documentaries, Movies, TED Talks, and Books to Add to Your List

In a continuing effort to support the Black Lives Matter movement, the World Swing Dance Council is offering Educational materials for you to review.  It’s broken into segments so you can easily choose the media you wish to review.  This is an important time in our lives and being educated is key.

 We also want to thank and recognize Natasha Smith and Nick King for providing the majority of this information and references.

TV Series

  1. Netflix’s When They See UsAva DuVernay’s When They See Us stopped the world when she told the stories of the (now) Exonerated Five. This is a cautionary tale for some on the dangers of making the narrative match a racist agenda and insight into the fear of Black families across the country, and world.
  2. OWN’s Queen Sugar: Queen Sugar shares the beauty and complexity in family, legacy, and justice through the warmth of a Black family. Over the course of the seasons, we become even more exposed to Black rural advocacy and the power in land ownership.
  3. FX’s Pose (available on Netflix): The Black LGBTQ+ community is no stranger to over-policing and brutal violence and Pose gives us a front row seat to the resilience and ingenuity of Ballroom culture and the fight for autonomy and safety.
  4. Netflix’s Seven Seconds: Before the hashtags and media, what is it like for a Black family learning they’ve lost a loved one and for a police officer realizing he took a life. How do these stories intertwine and what insight can we glean about repairing harm?
  5. Dear White People (Netflix): Dear White People has drawn controversy from many who have been afraid to push past the title, but it’s great insight to the inner workings of Black student activists and their campus experiences. 
  6. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Available online.

Related: 40 Ways White Women Can Help Fight Racism


  1. Netflix’s 13th by Ava DuVernay: Many cite The New Jim Crow (book by Michelle Alexander) as what woke them up to the extreme injustice in our criminal justice system and arguably 13th would be the documentary version of that, exposing how deep-rooted institutionalized racism is.
  2. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (directed by Stanley Nelson Jr.): The rise of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and its impact on civil rights and American culture.

Related: Self-Care for Black Women Activists Right Now

  1. The Children’s March: Youth-led activism has been on the rise since the fearless survivors of Parkland sparked a 21st century gun violence movement. To understand the shoulders on which we stand, learn about the children of Alabama that brought a racist police chief and segregation to its knees.
  2. The Kalief Browder Story (available on Netflix): For many of us, protesting is a right we take for granted. For those in the belly of our criminal justice system, advocating for yourself can be deadly. We must honor Kalief’s sacrifice by knowing his story and ending cash bail.
  3. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975: The Black Liberation movement of the late 20th century is riddled with stereotypes and propaganda causing many to believe that the movement died following the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. This documentary sets the record straight from the source with powerful interviews and recollections.
  4. LA92 (available on Netflix): It’s important that we never lose sight of the legacy of police violence. To understand the righteous anger of the Black community, learn more about the LA riots following the Rodney King trial.

Related: Beyoncé, LeBron James, Viola Davis, Taylor Swift and More Celebs Demand Justice for George Floyd 

Movies and Short Films

  1. Fruitvale Station (directed by Ryan Coogler): When advocating around police brutality, we often lose touch with the humanity of those we fight for. In this masterful film, we see a glimpse of what is stolen from us each time police use excessive force.
  2. Higher Learning (directed by John Singleton): Since 2016, many have become hyper-aware of the deep rifts that exist in American society and others have always known that we have very different experiences of this country. Higher Learning will surprise you in how relevant it is to today and showing some of the hurdles to achieving a “post-racial” society.
  3. Do The Right Thing (directed by Spike Lee): Eric Garner and George Floyd have both drawn connections to a fiction character who preceded them both: Radio Raheem of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. The film masterfully highlights where unrest stems from and what leads to the rage felt in uprisings and rebellions.
  4. If Beale Street Could Talk (directed by Barry Jenkins): Activism can be very glorified by those privileged to be advocating from the abstract. This film—part love story, part drama—gives us a look into what is truly at stake for those facing wrongful incarceration head on.
  5. I Am Not Your Negro (directed by Raoul Peck): James Baldwin has provided novels, personal essays, and prose to last many lifetimes! The film adaptation explores the extended history of racism through Baldwin’s recollections and personal observations.
  6. American Son (directed by Kenny Leon): Tension mounts in a Florida police station as an estranged interracial couple awaits news of their missing teenage son.
  7. King in the Wilderness (directed by Peter W. Kunhardt): Chronicles the final chapters of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
  8. Just Mercy (directed by Destin Daniel Cretton): Legal drama. A young man spends six years awaiting execution for a crime he didn’t commit. When a young defense lawyer takes on his case, he might have a chance at justice after all. True story.
  9. Selma (directed by Ava DuVernay): Historical drama based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches.
  10. The Hate U Give (directed by George Tillman Jr.): A prep school student who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer.

Related: Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian West, LeBron James and More Demand Justice for the Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

TED Talks

  1. Bryan Stevenson We Need To Talk About An Injustice: Bryan Stevenson is one of the leading racial justice advocates, working with people incarcerated on death row. If anyone can diagnose recent injustices and understand the steps forward it would be him.
  2. Kimberle Crenshaw on The Urgency of Intersectionality: Following 2016, ‘intersectionality’ became quite the buzzword, yet gets used out of context often by both the Right and Left alike. Hear from the black woman who coined the term in the ’80s as to how we use intersectionality to defend Black women.
  3. Baratunde Thurston on How To Deconstruct Racism, One Headline At A Time: Racism isn’t funny, but in this TED talk you’ll learn about the pervasive nature of racism and laugh out loud way more times than you’ll be able to count.
  4. T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison on The Trauma of Systemic Racism is Killing Black Women: Racism is traumatic. Oftentimes we are focused so much on legislative changes and urgent calls to action, that we neglect the emotional well being of Black people everywhere facing PTSD from this cyclical violence. Dive more into self-care as radical preservation with this joint TED talk.
  5. Verna Meyers on How To Overcome Our Biases? Walk Towards Them:  #AllLivesMatter is the new color blind and both terms are proof that people fear being accused of biases more than they feel committed to addressing them. Let’s lose the shame and take bold steps deeper into your allyship.
  6. Heather McGhee’s Racism Has A Cost for Everyone: My liberation is bound in yours. This is not a feel good statement but a reality when it comes to how racism impacts policy, budgets, and prevents us from achieving a society that works for us all
  7. Eve Abrams The Human Stories Beyond Mass Incarceration: We can never lose sight of the people behind the statistics and in this powerful TED talk, you’ll be reminded of why we fight this fight.
  8. Marlon Peterson’s Am I Not Human?: Marlon Peterson is formerly incarcerated and one of the leading national experts on alternatives to incarceration. Learn about why we desperately need more empathy when it comes to addressing harm.
  9. Emma Harrison’s From Reform to Abolition: The Future of the U.S. Prison System: More than ever before, people are Googling abolition and exploring what a society without prisons looks like. Have questions about why we can’t reform these systems or what this looks like in reality? Listen up!
  10. Rayna Gordon’s Don’t Be A Savior, Be An Ally: Sometimes with the best intentions we still fall short. Hear from Rayna about thoughtful allyship that seeks to uplift and support not take over or “save.”

Related: 25 Anti-Racist Instagram Accounts to Follow for Listening, Learning and Action-Taking 


  1. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: You’ve likely heard the story of someone who served decades in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. How does that happen and how do we ensure people don’t disappear behind the bars and into bureaucratic systems that value process more than justice?
  2. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward: America often equates Black to mean urban America when more of us live in “middle America” and the deep South than anywhere else. Ward is a literary artist who spins the stories of Black men in Mississippi with so much love and a deep desire to protect those she loves.
  3. Free Cyntoia by Cyntoia Brown-Long: Everyone from Rihanna to Kim Kardashian was tweeting about Cyntoia Brown-Long, the young woman incarcerated for defending herself against her abuser and a sexual predator. Cyntoia’s story is one that many women share—and this book sheds light on how systems set up to protect us, fail us time and time again.
  4. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah: Noah’s book reads like an episode of his late night show which is to say it’s informative, compelling, and well researched. This is a must read for those looking to understand race and class.
  5. Unafraid of the Dark by Rosemary L Bray: Racism feels like this big scary monster which can make some of us feel like we don’t know where to begin in dismantling it and others feel it’s not relevant to them at all. Bray sets the record straight with these vignettes and anecdotes about what racism looks like in practice but also how police interventions can work to alleviate the pressures.
  6. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor: “Listen to Black women!” Want to learn what Black women from movements past have to say about justice and freedom? Look no further than this foundational manifesto.
  7. Children of Blood and Bones by Tomi Adeyemi: Science fiction is a powerful tool for exploring problems from the distance we normally aren’t afforded with day-to-day life. This first part of the electric new trilogy explores issues of fear, revenge, and what it takes to build a new future.
  8. When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan Cullors: Cullors co-founded Black Lives Matter over five years ago alongside two other Black women organizers. Years later, she reflected on her own journey to that moment and what it means to be labeled a terrorist by the government that has sought to erase you and those you love.
  9. Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice by Paul Butler: This Harvard Law grad turned prosecutor went from high-powered attorney to wrongfully accused Black man in one day. What that experience taught him is cemented through this book and will tell you all you need to know about this rigged system.
  10. Pushout by Monique Morris: Black girls and women are often left out of the conversation when it comes to criminal justice reform but Morris reiterates exactly how Black girls are oversexualized, more likely to be described as aggressive, and more frequently suspended or expelled, leading to this school-to-prison pipeline we hear so much about.
  11. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson: Explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
  12. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: Guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American Life.
  13. A Kids’ Book about Racism by Jelani Memory: A clear explanation for kids of what racism is and how to know when you see it. 
  14. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, 10th Anniversary Edition  by Michelle Alexander, Karen Chilton, et al.: Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in the judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund.
  15. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national conversation about race.”

Children’s Books – Recommended by Brittany Smith (school teacher)

  1. Malcolm Little by Ilyasah Shabazz
  2. Let It Shine by Andrea Davis Pinkney – Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters
  3. Something Happened In Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard – A child’s story about racial injustice
  4. My Hair Is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera
  5. Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh – Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
  6. Young Water Protectors by Aslan Tudor – A story about Standing Rock
  7. My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero – One Girl’s Journey of Hom, Loss, and Hope
  8. We are Grateful by Traci Sorell
  9. I am not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
  10. Schomburg by Carole Boston Weatherford – The man who built a library
  11. Other book recommendations from Brittany can be found at

Articles and Websites

  1. Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay–Chances Are They’re Not by Danielle Cadet, May 28, 2020
  2. In the Wake of Police Brutality : by, May 29, 2020
  3. Bruk out Median: Refinery
  4. Who Gets to be Afraid in America? by Dr. Ibram X Kendi, The Atlantic, May 12, 2020
  5. Black Voices: 11 Things To Do Besides Say “This Has to Stop” In The Wake of Police Brutality by Brittany Wong,, May 29, 2020

Podcasts/Outreach videos

  1. Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
  2. Momentum: A Race Forward
  3. Code Switch NPR podcast
  4. Reimagining Policing in the wake of continued police violence with President Obama   
  5. D.C.’s Episcopal Bishop speaks on protests and politics after taking a stand against President Trump’s use of St. John’s Church and the manner in which the area was secured for his appearance. 

WCS Community Discussions on BLM

  1. Wine Coast Swing on BLM hosted by Robert Royston & Brandi Guild:
  2. Tara Trafzer’s Discussing the Facts on BLM:

Thanks go to Natasha Smith and Nick King for providing the majority of these references.