Racial Justice Movie Club
Raising Awareness of Racial Justice
Questions? Email Becky Clausen, Racial Justice Book Club facilitator.
Weds., February 3, 7 p.m.
The Politics of Racial Resentment and the Cost to Health with Jonathan M. Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness
Dying of Whiteness is a timely, political book by Jonathan M. Metzl, a Missouri-born physician who is now Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Metzl uses his familiarity with the heartland to tackle the fraught question of why people vote against their own interests. His goal is to learn how people held antigovernment or pro-gun attitudes while at the same time navigating lives impacted by poor health care, increasing gun-related morbidity, and underfunded public infrastructures and institutions. Metzl mines decades of data surrounding gun legislation and gun suicides, health care policy, and life expectancy to make his case that racism and racial resentment are at the heart of this behavior.
Weds., March 3, 7 p.m.
Holy Hierarchy: The Religious Roots of Racism in America
This powerful and carefully researched documentary features interviews with a number of renowned scholars to explain how the early religious definitions of a supernatural Supreme Being in colonial America led to widely accepted notions of “supreme” human beings (i.e., whites) and how these beliefs infiltrated the American legal system, ultimately codifying racism and turning it into an American institution.
Weds., April 7, 7 p.m.
I Am Not Your Negro
I Am Not Your Negro is an uncanny and thrilling communion between the filmmaker, Raoul Peck and his subject, novelist, playwright and essayist James Baldwin. The voice-over narration (read by Samuel L. Jackson) is entirely drawn from Baldwin’s work. Baldwin understood the deep, contradictory patterns of our history, and articulated, with a passion and clarity that few others have matched, the psychological dimensions of racial conflict: the dialectic of guilt and rage, forgiveness and denial that distorts relations between black and white citizens in the North as well as the South. The film is a searing indictment of America’s failure to rectify its shameful history of racial inequality. Baldwin’s personal account of the civil rights movement and its trio of outspoken icons – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. – reminds us that there is still much work to be done.
Weds., May 5, 7 p.m.
Cooked: Survival by Zip Code
In the summer of 1995, Chicago experienced an unthinkable disaster, when extremely high humidity and a layer of heat-retaining pollution drove the heat index up to more than 126 degrees. Judith Helfand’s Cooked: Survival by Zip Code tells the story of this tragic heatwave, the most traumatic in U.S. history, in which 739 citizens died over the course of just a single week, most of them poor, elderly, and African American. Cooked shines a light on the issues of poverty, race, class, and education that underly how natural disasters take lives. Helfand’s main thesis is that we should reconsider how we define the word “disaster” to encompass the issues that face a community before a heat wave or hurricane hits it.
Weds., June 2, 7 p.m.
Dr. Rhea Boyd on “Pandemics + Policing + Protest”
Pediatrician and public health advocate Rhea W. Boyd, MD, MPH, talks about the ways in which racism impacts health and why protest is a profound public health intervention. She also discusses the racial disparities emerging during the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic and the racial disparities evidenced by disproportionate police violence within the broader history of racism in the United States.
Weds., July 7, 7 p.m.
Walter Johnson discusses his book, The Broken Heart of America: St Louis and the Violent History of the United States
Harvard Professor, author and native Missourian Walter Johnson’s The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States, is a study of St. Louis, its hinterlands, and its victims over centuries. Johnson gives a searing portrait of the racial dynamics that lie inescapably at the heart of our nation, told through the turbulent history of the city of St. Louis. According to Johnson, St Louis exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation’s past and future. The book represents a triumph in pulling together the stories of settler violence and racism that had traditionally eluded historians. Johnson’s insistence on rooting today’s racism in yesterday’s conquest of indigenous people and enslavement of kidnapped people from Africa makes The Broken Heart of America a book for our times.