16 films and shows that make you think about race in America
On last night's episode of "American Horror Story: Coven," an aspiring voodoo princess played by Gabourey Sidibe (2009's "Precious") subjects the zombie head of a decapitated slave owner (Kathy Bates) to what the former calls "sensitivity training" and what the latter dubs "fresh hell." "You are ignorant," Queenie (Sidibe) snaps at Bates' vile, sadistic Madame Delphine LaLaurie. "You are not leaving this earth until I educate you about those people you tortured -- my people." She then forces the bitter, old head to watch all eight hours of the award-winning 1977 mini-series "Roots" and its accompanying sequel.
It's a bullshit conceit, of course. It's unlikely that any amount of good television, no matter how compelling or Emmy-garnering, could convert someone with bigotry down to their bones. That said, I'll play along. Admittedly, I don't remember having ever viewed "Roots" in its entirety, certainly not since I was a child and unable to comprehend the miniseries' breadth and implications. Whether or not it offers the best recorded account of blacks' experience in this country, it certainly does not represent the whole story. Were I to be afforded the opportunity to reprogram a a racist -- even an undead one -- here is a list of additional pop culture touchstones I would schedule: