A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Society can't eradicate racism until we tell and understand the stories of what it's like to experience bigotry, racism, and prejudice in everyday situations all the time. Progress has been made, but there's a lot of struggles still ahead. Each generation has its own battles, and the worst thing you can do is not fight those battles in your time.
Positive Role Models
People interviewed are mostly sports legends and heroes who broke barriers and achieved greatness in the face of deep-rooted racism. Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators also provide their perspectives, historical context, and lived experiences.
Most people interviewed are Black men from different backgrounds. Latino, First Nation, Asian, and White men are also interviewed, along with a few women of color. The movie makes it clear that Black people aren't the only ones facing racism and prejudice, but the majority of athletes profiled are Black men.
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Violence & Scariness
Suicide is briefly talked about twice. One instance is a man who came close to taking his own life; the other is a man who tells that his wife committed suicide because of the stress caused by living in a deeply racist community. A subject talks about different kinds of racism, including violent racism where people will shove you out of the way or lay hands on you with hostile intentions. Several mentions of lynching.
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"Nigra," the "N" word (though the whole word is not said), "Caucasoid," "kook," "Jap," and "damn."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Because They Believed is a documentary about athletes who broke racist barriers and achieved greatness in their chosen sports against tremendous odds and while overcoming all kinds of difficulties. There are a couple of mentions of suicide, lynching, and being pushed out of the way. Strong language is "damn" and several racial slurs like "nigra," "Jap," and people say the "N" word (though the whole word is not said). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This long, well-intentioned sports documentary contains a wealth of history, invaluably told by the people who lived and changed it. Unfortunately, Because They Believed is a little too stiff to forge a real emotional connection with viewers, or to really invite them into the moments of hardship and triumph. People are interviewed with one camera that doesn't move, often in public settings with distracting background activity and off-camera noises.
Many people's experiences are similar, but including so many of them becomes repetitive instead of adding emotional impact. A couple of segments are much longer than the others, but while the topics are interesting, neither are more dynamic or impactful than the rest of the movie. A narrator who introduces each athlete voicing over archival photos and footage adds little enthusiasm. Still, this is a fine starting point for older kids to learn about the racist barriers many top athletes had to overcome.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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