“It’s really cool how all of a sudden there’s all of these black movies and stuff out now,” my 13 year old said to me recently.
I didn’t really know how to respond. That’s not exactly what I wanted him to learn from our modified viewing habits. But I knew what he meant.
It was Black History Month, and we were taking in new items of pop culture, and had been for awhile – The Black Panthers documentary, the Misty Copeland documentary and photo shoot, Selma, Beyoncé, magazines featuring Black Lives Matter, and non-stop Hamilton (I’m talking non-stop).
And so I’m sure it seemed like to him that there was no black pop culture and now all of a sudden there is. (Which isn’t true, obviously.)
But it did make me stop and think about why we’re diversifying what culture we take in. Why do we have He Named Me Malala and McFarland, USA on our DVR?
And I realized that for me, part of parenting is being intentional about creating opportunities for my kids to engage with people and cultures different from us. It weighs heavy on me knowing that if we default to what is easy and natural, our entire social world would be mostly white. It is worth the extra effort to find movies and documentaries to rent or record.
My white kids need to understand that they are not the center of the universe, no matter what society tells them, and that there is so much beauty and creativity in diversity.
Like when we talked about the Black Panthers and the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and my 8 year old finally understood why the dancers were dressed as they were – “That’s their way of saying thank you.”
Movies aren’t the end point of engaging with diversity, of course, but they can be an easy entry point. I mean if we use the TV as a babysitter anyways, we might as well have a curious and cultured one, right?
You’ll need to check your local listings (and I think most of these are probably on Netflix), but here’s a list of a few movies to get you started.
Eyes on the Prize – this one is so fantastic!
Global Voices – international documentaries