Parents' Guide to

The Great American Lie

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Thought-provoking docu about racial and gender inequality.

Movie NR 2020 99 minutes
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This is an insightful, overtly progressive documentary about the intersection of gender and racial inequality in relation to the pursuit of the so-called American Dream. Newsom, who is married to California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), interviews an assortment of experts to explore the history of that dream. They look at why it's so much more difficult to attain for women and people of color -- particularly single women of color who make considerably less than White men or White women -- without a safety net or government support. (Given the breadth of the documentary, it seems unnecessary that Newsom decided to also interview her husband, but otherwise it's an impressive list of pundits and scholars.)

Although The Great American Lie highlights several people, the standout by far is Ruby De Tie, the principal of a charter middle school in East Oakland, California. She understands the newcomer and underserved students at her school because she was once in their shoes, growing up with a single mother who had escaped an abusive marriage. She has to counsel not only her students but also the teachers who burn out from the sympathetic trauma of educating kids who face more adversity just getting out of the door in the morning than many Americans do in a lifetime. Economists and historians affirm that the United States' investments in business, law enforcement, and defense -- instead of health care, education, and childcare -- stack the odds against many. But there aren't a lot of solutions offered other than comparisons to countries that prioritize family and fulfillment (like the Scandinavian and other high-tax, high social welfare nations) and, of course, calls for compassion, empathy, and community-building.

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