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I’m LeMarr, and I am a movie nerd. This February, as one way to mark Black History Month, I would like to offer five underrated or lesser-known movies that can be great conversation starters about race—or just good entertainment:

Glory Road (PG-13, 2006)

The best sports movie with racial themes is, no doubt, Remember the Titans, but you’ve seen it already. Glory Road depicts the story of a small-college basketball team’s quest to win a championship in the face of racial adversity. This movie is fun, at times raw, but still a meaningful watch.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (PG-13, 2012)

This movie is not simply about race but about “the culture.” Quvenzhané Wallis (Hushpuppy) gives an Oscar-worthy performance at the age of 6. This film observes the cycle of poverty, where the system fails its people again and again across generations. Growing up in poverty can affect how parents raise their children, and this movie provides important insight into that cycle. Beast of the Southern Wild is a deeply emotional and artistic movie that challenges us to think about the circumstances that created Hushpuppy and her family’s situation and our role in the solution.

Blindspotting (R, 2018)

Blindspotting dissects what it means to actually be a part of black culture in America. Are you considered a part of black culture if you are born in the ghetto or act a certain way? Blindspotting takes you on a journey to discover what that means by following two men (one black, one white) who grew up in Oakland together but act in different ways. Characters in this film use explicit language, helping the viewer understand how it feels to live in their environment.

Home (PG, 2015)

Home might not be the first movie that comes to mind when you think of black empowerment, but this is an underrated movie that deals with xenophobia. Yes, it’s a children’s movie about xenophobia. Home is a family-friendly movie that allows us to break down the concept of “the other” and makes us consider how we should treat those who are different from us.

Us (R, 2019)

Us explores fascinating, deep themes that beg to be broken down and discussed in groups. On the surface, Us might seem like a horror movie we need to run away from, but I believe it’s a social commentary deserving of exploration and study. It deals with race, class, and privilege, reflecting both modern themes and themes as old as time. Though this movie contains violence and gore, it’s meant to highlight the intensity and significance of the film’s lessons. 

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