Artist Spotlight: Black Lives Matter

The tumultuous events of the past few weeks have been necessary. Whatever your perspective, the main issue that is as clear as can be is that black people in America are being shamelessly persecuted, abused, and murdered in our country. This is nothing new, but its all the more urgent that immediate change is crucial and imminent for any sort of progress in today’s America.

While the below collection is by no means all encompassing, these projects not only have elements of education on the severity and persistence of these issues, but highlight stories that have been largely overlooked thus far in our culture – culture that has almost completely been conceived by black voices and appropriated by those oppressing them. They are listed here as a means to start a conversation and provide a starting point for education.

Before you read, I urge you to check out any of the below links for insights and opportunities to take action, whatever your means:


Educational Recommendations: 

Documentary Film


What is is: A companion piece to her book of the same name, Becoming is a documentary that takes viewers into the life of Michelle Obama and her insights on life as a black woman and history making First Lady in America.

Where to watch: Netflix

Paris is Burning

What is is: A riveting documentary about “house” culture in New York City and the black and latin trans community during the mid-to-late 80s. One of the first documentaries to feature trans women, the film honors the brave women who fostered in a movement for those unwanted by contemporary society.

Where to watch: YouTube


What is is: Using the current prison system in place in America, Ava DuVernay’s documentary provides a harrowing, insightful glimpse into the history of racial inequality and the criminalization of black Americans.

Where to watch: Netflix, YouTube

I Am Not Your Negro

What is is: I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary about James Baldwin and his unfinished book of the same name. It is an exploration of racism, using Baldwin’s perspective and exploring stories of prolific figures in the fight for equality in Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Where to watch: Google Play

The Death & Life of Marsha P. Johnson

What is it: The Netflix documentary revolves around Marsh P. Johnson, a prominent gay rights activist during the time of the Stonewall riots, one of the first movements that sparked the gay pride movement in America.

Where to watch: Netflix

Feature Film

The Hate U Give

What is it: This YA adaptation stars Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter, a teen living in a poor, mostly back neighborhood who attends a wealthy, white majority private school a town away. Through Carter’s journey, viewers are exposed to the dichotomy of these worlds and how difficult it is to navigate for someone like the central character. In its later moments, the film extends to reveal these issues on a macro level.

Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime


What is it: Dramatizing the story of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the overlooked and undervalued Selma is a delicately told period drama centered around Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts to fight for racial equality in a still heavily discriminated post Civil Rights Act world.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Just Mercy

What is it: Just Mercy tells the story of a young Harvard graduate, Bryan Stevenson, beginning a career as an attorney. He dedicates his work to those wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. When he meets inmate Walter McMillian, the young lawyer becomes privy to the systematic injustices first hand and fights for the rightful freedom of an innocent man.

Where to watch: Apple TV


What is it: Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt LockerZero Dark Thirty), Detroit tells the story of a group of men who are searched and seized by the police during the 1967 Detroit riots at a nearby motel. Gritty, realistic, and eye opening, Detroit shines a magnifying class on perpetual issues of violence continued by the police and the corruption of law enforcement.

Where to watch: Hulu


Dear White People

What is it: Centered around an indignant college student and her school radio show, Dear White People is a character focused comedy-drama about the complexities of being black in contemporary society. In centering on one character per episode, the series is successful in representing a diverse array of characters, from shy introverts to outspoken activists.

Where to watch: Netflix

When They See Us

What is it: This chilling miniseries is by no means an easy watch, making it that much more necessary. Relating the all too real story of The Central Park Five, it depicts the mistreatment of five young boys by the law enforcement as well as their wrongful imprisonment by a system designed for them to fail.

Where to watch: Netflix


What is it: More celebratory in tone, Pose is an ode to ballroom culture and trans women living in New York City in the late 1980s. It deals with issues like HIV/Aids, discrimination, income and socioeconomic inequality, and crime. One of the show’s strongest innovations is it spotlight on the internal discrimination of trans people of color by the LGBT community themselves.

Where to watch: Netflix, FX on Demand

Author: Kieran Sweeney

Writing about entertainment for the better part of a decade and consuming it twice as much, Kieran Sweeney is "the" pop culture aficionado. A connoisseur of the intersection of art and commercialism, the USC Annenberg graduate has earned his reputation as an empathetic and thoughtful writer. His resume includes USC's The Daily Trojan, USC Viterbi News, and personal assistance for publicity and marketing companies from Drill Down Media to This Fiction. His intersectional experience in the industry points to his wit and unfiltered thoughts on the latest project in entertainment

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