Now more than ever, we as Muslims, should be continuing to educate ourselves on important social movements to help bring fairness and change to the world. As believers of the faith, we have an overbearing duty when it comes to delivering justice but in order to do so, we need to understand the foundations on which our society has been built. And that begins with understanding the plight of the Black community.
As we’re all well aware, throughout history, this group (amongst many other minority groups) have been marginalised for the benefit of more powerful groups. And this type of generational trauma cannot be undone. Despite this fact, we must all do our best to understand how we came to this point and help progress the movement further in order to bring about equality.
If you’re still on the uneducated or misinformed side of the argument, I urge you to put down your pitchforks and take the time to understand and empathise with our fellow Black brothers and sisters. Islam may have given us all the rights we needed to live peacefully, but the world took them away and now we need to change that.
Netflix has devised a whole section of shows dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement, in order to help educate us all.
Here are just five of our favourite and necessary picks from the collection:
Up first, we have a must-watch for everyone: When They See Us (2019).
When I tell you, this show broke me, I mean it completely and utterly shattered me.
While I was very aware of how the US justice system was rigged to incarcerate Black folk, I only knew of it in statistics and graphs – at most, horror stories delivered by word of mouth. But adding details and visuals to this tragic (but by no means uncommon) story made it all the more difficult to internalise.
When They See Us tells the story of “five teens from Harlem [who] become trapped in a nightmare when they’re falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park.”
It highlights the way innocent Black boys were failed by a justice system that brags about its fairness and uncovers all the components that ultimately led to their false incarceration. After you’ve watched it, I’d also highly recommend you watch the follow-up interview with Oprah Winfrey as well as the real-life men involved in one of New York City’s most notorious cases.
Next, we have American Son (2019).
Starring Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale, who come together as an “estranged interracial couple”, this play-turned-Netflix-drama overviews the harsh realities faced by the majority Black or interracial parents. In the hour and 30-minute film, we learn about how their son, Jamal, has been arrested by police because of his “anti-cop” bumper sticker.
The revelations that follow are heartbreaking, but again, not uncommon.
Thirdly, we have Self-Made (2020).
When my mother first put this on, it was background noise to me while I did some shopping on my phone, but within the first half an hour, I suddenly became invested in the life of Madam C.J. Walker – A Black, self-made millionaire. It was interesting to see the trials and tribulations that some Black women face within their own community and how this then translates to the wider world. And it also stars Octavia Spencer, so there’s no way you can give this one a miss.
Up next, we have 13th (2016).
Long before the Black Lives Matter movement garnered attention in 2020, members of the movement were already exploring societal constraints placed on the group via the biggest perpetrator: The justice system. 13th analyses the criminalisation of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom over a long period of time and how this has become a normal part of our society.
It’s extremely thought-provoking as a piece and is well worth the watch.
And lastly, we have our most recent watch: Colin in Black & White (2021).
Now I never understood why Colin Kaepernick was used as a tool to demonise the Black Lives Matter movement. Let’s not pretend that his fall from grace was a natural one when the right-wing media used him as a representative of all things ‘un-patriotic’. All he was calling for was equality for his community.
This drama series follows his “formative years navigating race, class and culture while aspiring for greatness.”
A great watch when you pair it with understanding the work he’s been committed to in recent years.
Those are just a few of the many pieces worth watching in Netflix’s Black Lives Matter collection. Let us know if you have other suggestions via our Instagram – @MVSLIM.