Cinema and politics have always gone hand-in-hand, because the power of an “image” to shape culture and confront our biases is immeasurable.
Below are films about racism in America, an issue that sadly persists today. They cover anything from the country’s dark period of slavery to present-day, racially charged micro-aggressions, illuminating the (often deadly) challenges of being black in America. 1. Fruitvale Station
Know why “Black Panther” is so political? It’s because Ryan Coogler directed it, the same person who made “Fruitvale Station”, which turns the controversial death of Oscar Grant into a bold and audacious callout to needless, racially targeted police brutality. 2. Lemonade
Beyoncé's tour-de-force visual album incisively examines not only the betrayal in her marriage, but takes it further and looks into the deep pains of her heritage, culture, and blackness—seeking to heal by reaffirming her identity, demanding freedom, and declaring that "I break chains all by myself, won't let my freedom rot in hell." 3. Do the Right Thing
Deemed "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress, “Do the Right Thing” is quintessential black cinema—or just cinema, to be honest. Unapologetically political, it shows an oppressed community fighting back at their assailants, and is one of the best films ever made, according to many critics. 4. Hidden Figures
Hidden figures no more—this Oscar-nominated film tells the oft-forgotten story of three black NASA engineers Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who were vital to sending the first American astronauts into space. 5. Get Out
A white girl takes her black boyfriend to meet her parents in the Oscar-winning "Get Out", which mixes B-movie thrills and racial politics to give us one of the most tantalizing and thought-provoking social commentaries in recent years. 6. Moonlight
The body is political. The self is political. "Moonlight", which follows a gentle black boy hardening into a traumatized man, inquires about identity and queerness in spaces where such questioning often isn't afforded. 7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
In this critically acclaimed film, a young man searches for home amid a fast-changing neighborhood that has largely forgotten about him. Melding poetry, politics, and realism, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is a powerful ode to people most affected by gentrification. 8. Mudbound
After World War II, two men—one white, one black—get to work in a rural farm in Mississippi, where they acclimate to post-war life and racism, painting a bleak yet honest portrait of American history. 9. The Help
“The Help” follows black nannies, called in slur as “the help,” during the 1960s, tracking their daily lives as they deal with white families for which they work, and the racially charged hurdles they face. 10. BlacKkKlansman
Based on actual events, “BlacKkKlansman” follows a black officer in Colorado who infiltrates the white supremacy group Ku Klux Klan. A “period” film that sadly still reflects present America. 11. Dear White People
This feisty and sharp comedy-drama takes place in a fictional Ivy League college and follows various Black students, showing us crucial perspectives on what the Academia is like for a Black person in America. 12. Hairspray
Following the iconic character Tracy Turnblad as she pursues stardom by joining a local TV show as a dancer and rallying against racial segregation, “Hairspray” is a musical that’s as energetic as it is willing to comment on America’s race issues. 13. Sorry to Bother You
The oft-unseen telemarketer is the star of “Sorry to Bother You”, who, after discovering a magical trick that guarantees the success of his career, tumbles down a rabbit hole of greed and corruption.