Media Resource Roundup: Podcasts, TV Shows, and Films Taking On Social Justice Issues Today

In his essay, “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin writes “the purpose of education, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for themself, to make their own decisions” and that educators should be striving to teach kids  “that they do not have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that they have the right and the necessity to examine everything.” Educators across the country have the opportunity to (re)think how to teach BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students, to challenge the institutions working against them, be agents of change, and help them understand and leverage their own power for social change. 

Listed below are podcasts, tv shows, and films by BIPOC creators that will make you think, learn, challenge, and educate yourself on the most pressing racial and social justice issues of our time. These resources can help you incorporate social justice and equity into curriculums that will push students to build a more just world for themselves and their communities.  

Podcasts 

Code Switch, NPR  

Hosted by journalists of color, this podcast explores how race impacts every part of society. The episode DACA Decision: Check-In with Miriam Gonzalez can help students understand better what DACA is, why it’s important for many students in the U.S., and its attempted revocation. It can help students engage with the pros/cons of a program like DACA. For more check out this supplemental resource: DACA isn’t enough. 

The 1619 Project, The New York Times  

This audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones that examines the long shadow of the first ship with enslaved peoples that landed in Virginia. The episode The Economy That Built Slavery will allow students to begin deconstructing myths about slavery. Students can compile examples of how history textbooks typically describe slavery and compare that with descriptions in the episode.  

Intersectionality Matters, The African American Policy Forum 

This podcast hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory. Listen to the episode (Re)Imagine the Impossible (specifically 50:00-1:06:00). This clip can help teachers navigate conversations on hope and the power of (re)imagining our futures, especially through creative forms like art and writing.   

TV Shows 

Gentefied, Netflix 

This show follows three Mexican-American cousins in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles chasing the American Dream, even while that dream threatens the things they hold most dear, including their neighborhood, their immigrant grandfather and the family-owned taco shop.  

This NPR article has more contextual reading on the show. 

Dear White People, Netflix 

The show follows a group of students of color in Winchester University, an ivy league and Predominantly White Institution. Watch season 2, episode 8, which engages in questions such as what does it mean to be a white ally? How do we dissect ‘white guilt?’ And how does such guilt work for mixed-race/bi-racial people? You can style it as a group discussion or have students host their own radio interview as in the show.  

When They See Us 

If you want to learn more about how the criminal justice system (harmfully) affects youth of color, especially for white educators, this is a great limited series. However, having students watch the show may be triggering or traumatic for students experiencing similar issues in their own lives.  

Movies 

13th, Netflix  

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with Black individuals. This documentary will help you conduct a conversation on the legacy of slavery and discuss the connections between mass incarceration, ICE detention centers, and the beginning of the reservation system.  

Songs My Brother Taught Me, Amazon Prime 

This film gives a look into the lives of native youth in South Dakota. Often, history textbooks give us a very narrow and stereotypical view of ‘reservation life’ making it crucial to showcase native stories, native identities and culture, and native people outside of (often inaccurate) colonial or historical representations. Consider pairing with short poems or essays by native writers such as Billy-Ray Belcourt or Joy Harjo. 

And, check out this supplemental reading 

Get Out and/or Us, available on YouTube 

Two thriller films by writer and director Jordan Peele. These two films can lead discussions many directions: the representation of Black people in films, the use of horror as a genre to portray actual realities and horrors of the real world, centering Black people in horror films, and the many issues brought up in the film from race to a dual identity.  

The Edge of Democracy, Netflix 

This film follows the leaders of Brazil as they deal with their ideologically divided country. It can prompt students to make comparisons between Brazil and the U.S. and analyze the U.S.’s major influence both politically and economically, on Latin America.  

For more on why media forms should be used in the classroom, read this 

Author: Gianna Baez, Yale University Class of 2021.

Gianna is a KIPP NYC alumna and KIPP Foundation 2020 intern.

VIEW ALL POSTS

Search our blog

Sort by