Top Ten Thursdays: Race and Racism In American Films

I figured that given the recent celebration of Martin Luther King and my upcoming review of Menace II Society it would be an ideal time to do a top ten list of American movies involving race and racism commentary.  I tried to make it a balanced list and consider all forms of racism in The United States, and do not worry D.W. Griffith is nowhere to be found on this list.

10.) Borat (2006)

While most people mistook this as a raunchy comedy/mockumentary, Borat is perhaps the most telling study of the ignorance Americans still possess in regards to race relations both nationally and globally.

9.) Bamboozled (2000)

One of two Spike Lee films on this list, Bamboozled is a scathing and confrontational look at the role African-American's play in their own exploitation in entertainment.

8.) Mississippi Burning (1988)

Mississippi Burning is, without a doubt, one of the most intense and well delivered studies of Civil Rights activism in the South during the 1960's

7.) Stand And Deliver (1988)

A staple of high school film viewings, Stand And Deliver is unique in its focus on Hispanic students and their struggles to obtain respect in the dismissive American education system.

6.) Jackie Brown (1997)

Pam Greer is sultry and seductive in this Tarantino masterpiece and her relationship with an aloof bondsman played brilliantly by Robert Forster provides for one hip commentary on race in America.

5.) American History X (1998)

American History X is easily the most abrasive film on this list and is a necessary viewing for anybody who is ignorant enough to believe racism no longer exists.

4.) Boyz In The Hood (1991)

This uncompromising urban drama welcomed America to a part of their country that they would like to have believed did not exist, and forever changed how individuals understood the world of minorities in underprivileged communities.

3.) Remember The Titans (2000)

This film is on the list simply because I have met nobody to date that dislikes this film.

2.) Do The Right Thing (1989)

No surprises here, my favorite film makes yet another of my top ten lists, this time for its astute observation on racial tensions in urban New York, particularly those between Italian-Americans and African- Americans.

1.) To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

While the defending of Tom Robinson only plays a minor part in this film, To Kill A Mockingbird is a film about teaching youth a correct and respectable lifestyle, one that includes defending the innocent, regardless of the color of their skin.

Honorable Mention

The Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967)
Crash (2006)


  1. i'd include, although i dont know if on the main list or honorable mention, the blues hammer scene from 'ghost world'. amazingly powerful yet subtle. there are some very important moments in Neil Labutte's 'in the company of men' that I'd also include (when aaron eckhart makes the black intern pull his pants down and the scene when there's an office full of white guys laughing & talking and soon as the black guy walks in the room they all get quiet for a second). its a great look at not only misogyny in the workplace, but racism too. claire denis' first three films (chocolat, no fear no die and i cant sleep) are also GREAT looks at interracial romance without it being thrown in your face.

    good list, btw

  2. Tragically, I have yet to see any of these films, but they all sound excellent. I am definitely interested by taking up the films of Claire Denis as I have heard many great things about them. When I do, I will definitely keep you in mind when reviewing them.

  3. awesome. dont know if you've seen, but i have an entire section on the righthand of my blog dedicated to claire denis haha. shes one of the best. but that scene in ghost world is so subtly amazing/fun/sad.