A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Battling systemic racism requires many interpersonal and emotional skills, such as having the courage to have tough conversations, knowing when to use self-control in hard situations, and engaging in empathy, compassion, and curiosity. Tackling racism is a group effort -- it will take large-scale teamwork to combat the tide of discrimination and racial privilege in the United States. It also requires humility, because combatting racism includes making (and admitting to) mistakes and unlearning biases.
Positive Role Models
Robinson delivers a masterclass in combatting racist ideology by directly engaging with people who hold biases, including those who support the Confederate flag. In his talk, Robinson clearly demonstrates how the United States has made racism a pillar of its society and provides tools to help make the country better for everyone. His discussion challenges viewers to empathize with those they might have had biases toward and to have the courage and humility to accept tough truths about themselves and their society. He also challenges people to stand up for maligned populations through activism, such as having hard conversations with those who need to change.
Robinson, a Black lawyer, is the film's main focus; he's on a mission to combat racism in the United States and is frank about how racism affected his family and childhood. He's also comfortable with demonstrating and expressing emotion. A variety of interview subjects, Black and White, are shown throughout the film. Black history is centered, with scenes showing the brutality that Black Americans have had to endure due to White supremacy.
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Violence & Scariness
Racist violence, including police brutality and disturbing images of Dr. Martin Luther King and Emmett Till's dead bodies. Discussions about lynchings/other racist murders, enslavement, and institutionalized rape (and "breeding" Black women) throughout slavery.
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Language isn't frequent but includes "hell," "damn," and the "N" word.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is a must-see documentary centered on a powerful lecture about racism given by Jeffery Robinson, the deputy legal director and director of the Trone Center for Justice & Equality at the ACLU. Robinson is frank about the United States' racist underpinnings: The film features difficult conversations, disturbing images, and upsetting scenes of racist violence, including the deaths of figures like Emmett Till and Dr. Martin Luther King and instances of police brutality. Language is infrequent but includes "hell," "damn," and the "N" word. Be prepared to have meaningful but possibly challenging conversations with teens about race in the United States, including how to combat racism, prejudice, and racial privilege. 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 documentary is a sometimes-tough but absolutely necessary watch for people who are committed to being more socially conscious about race in the United States. Indeed, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is meant as a wake-up call to Americans about the truth of their country's history: Not only is racism still alive and well in the United Stats, but it's a fundamental part of the country's foundation. The film is also a call to action -- Robinson makes it clear that it's up to all Americans to stop the tide of racism in order to put the United States on a better, more equitable path.
As a speaker and presenter, Robinson is effective, engaging, and empathetic; he draws on research, interviews, and personal experience to showcase exactly why it's important to address internal biases, teach accurate history, and properly question laws. He securely guides viewers through many of the "usual suspects"-type arguments against learning about racial history by providing cold, hard facts, often pulling from documents left by the United States' founding fathers and historic notables. With his sound arguments, there's no room for denial. Who We Are is a film that should be taught in every classroom; parents who show this film to their teens will be able to facilitate their own family's personal growth through exploration, tough conversations, and personal accountability.
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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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