Racism can be a difficult topic for youth ministry. Most teens will understand that individual acts of racism are wrong. But the topic of institutional racism is more difficult. How are we as a society responsible for structures that promote racial divides? And what can we do?
I have listed a few short video resources below which are suitable for your youth group or for background material for adults. If you really want to dive into this, I highly recommend the film 13TH by Ava DuVernay. This documentary explores how the mass incarceration of African Americans has divided our society and demonized the minority poor. This film is TV-MA, so I am recommending it for adults who will be teaching on the subject rather than to show youth. Although you could show them selected clips. I have included the trailer in the list below.
The Disturbing History of the Suburbs
This is a good explanation of redlining, a racist housing policy from the 1930’s which continues to impact our neighborhoods to this day. It is a prime example of how systemic racism continues to segregate our society.
NFL National Anthem Protests
This video by Fr. Mike Schmitz is a good introduction to the NFL national anthem protests and protests in general. They could serve as a lead in to the topic of racism. Why is this so controversial? What is really being protested? These topics stir up a lot of emotion and this video can be a good starting point.
The Two Lives of Jasmine
This short video explores how a child’s life can take two different paths solely based on the circumstances of her birth. This is a good resource for talking about why the playing field is not level for everyone.
Race and Racist Institutions
While I highly recommend the film 13th, this seven minute video brings up many of the same topics in a much shorter format. (Youth ministers should really watch 13th before showing this to have an intelligent discussion on these topics.)
The 13th amendment reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” We now have more African Americans under criminal supervision than all of the slaves back in the 1850’s. This documentary takes a hard look at the mass incarceration of the minority poor in the United States. The full film can be seen on Netflix. Learn more.
Marley Dias Talks Institutional Racism
11 year old Marley talks about segregation, school inequality, educational materials which focus on white culture, and other topics. Marley started a campaign to have books with Black girls as the main characters in her school library.
This short demonstration gives a visual example of how not everyone has the same starting point in life. Some people have a head start due to the families and situations they were born into.