Class Overview

Racism in Film
Movie Poster of The Chinese

For over a century, film has been one of the most important forms of mass communication and its power and influence has not diminished

Films express and reflect a society’s way of seeing itself.

In this class we will explore the ways racism has infiltrated motion pictures, whether overt or subtle.

We will watch films that were designed or had the effect of influencing public opinion about race relations.

Together we will consider the relevance of these films in light of contemporary social issues and politics.

Whether screened in theaters, on TV, or on the web, films continue to communicate ideas that influence audiences and our society in a major way.

The four class evenings will present examples of movies that shocked audiences and provoked outrage from segments of the public during the last century to see what we can learn that is relevant to current issues.

October 24: Birth of a Nation, Part 1

October 31: Birth of a Nation, Part 2

November 7: Charlie Chan

November 14: The Cheat

Other recommended films: Black Legion (1937); Blood in the Face (1991); Murder of Emmett Till (2003); Two Towers of Japan (2002); and, White Dog (1982).

This course is offered in partnership with Scarecrow Video and Seattle International Film Festival.

Learning Outcomes

  • Become familiar with seeing racism that appears in films.
  • Understand the power of film and the effect it can have on audiences.
  • Be able to describe examples of movies where racism is an integral part.
  • Explain how motion picture producers seek to avoid overt racism.

Who Should Take this Class?

Film lovers
Anyone interested in social issues and the topic of racism
People who want to have meaningful discussions with others

Session Details