10 Awesome Movies That Center Around Racism

Time To Kill

It doesn’t appear that movies about racism exist as much as they used to.  In fact many movies today have more of a “racial undertone” type of approach.  And sometimes it doesn’t even take the form of race against race.  It can be species versus other species.  Take Avatar for example.  Many people argue that Avatar has some racism in it (which I totally agree with).

And overall,while the topic of racism is still somewhat popular in movies and television that doesn’t mean it’s always successful.  My point being, some movies put in racism just to get an effect.  Whereas others base their entire movies around racism.

The following are ten movies where racism is a central theme and I think the movies used it quite well.

A Time To Kill

Time to Kill

Talk about an appropriate title huh?  If there’s ever a time to kill it’s certainly when your daughter is raped and murdered.  Black or white it sure as hell wouldn’t make a difference to me.  If someone were to do that to my daughter I wouldn’t hesitate, not even for a second.  P.S. Whatever happened to Matthew Mcconaughey?  He was amazing in this movie.  Now it’s like show off your abs in stupid chick flicks.  This movie was extremely powerful and very “real” if you know what I mean.  Sadly, this kind of racism still takes place in some parts of the South.

To Kill a Mockingbird


You have to appreciate the tackle on racism here.  It was extremely ballsy to go after both the subjects of rape and racism in 1962.  And Gregory Peck couldn’t have done a better job as Atticus Finch.  It’s certainly a must see.

Mississippi Burning


Two FBI agents investigating the murder of civil rights workers during the 60s seek to breach the conspiracy of silence in a small Southern town where segregation divides black and white.  Hackman and Defoe do an excellent job here and when a movie has scenes that are tough to watch, you know it’s good.

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing

It doesn’t get any more “racist” than Do the Right Thing.  Spike Lee pulls out zero stops when it comes to stereotyping.  He goes after the Italians, Blacks, Asians, and just about anyone in this movie.  He also does it in a comedic way.   I absolutely love the montage where each race makes fun of the other, especially the Asian guy when he says “Mayor Koch, how I am doing!”

American History X

American History X

Perhaps Edward Norton’s best role is in this movie.  His character Daniel Vinyard realizes how ignorant and dumb he’s been as a young White Supremacist leader in Los Angeles.  How does he realize his wrongdoing?  By committing murder and having his own kind turn on him in prison.  The rape scene is very tough to watch, as is the scene where he “curbs” the guy.  Great great movie though.

The Believer


A lot of people don’t know this movie very well.  It’s when Ryan Gosling wasn’t famous and he played a self hating Jew.   It was messed up to see how conflicted he was.  You have a hard time believing he ever was in fact Jewish but it becomes quite clear and evident as his past catches up with his present and he has no idea how to handle his hatred.  This was a fantastic Indy flick.



This movie always gets mixed reactions.  I happened to enjoy it and I found it to be somewhat over the top but at the same time I can definitely see some dickish white cops pulling this stuff in real life.  Not to mention all the other crimes that take place in this movie.  Did it deserve best picture?  Probably not but it’s worth seeing.

Guess Whose Coming to Dinner

Coming to Dinner

It goes without saying that this movie is important.  Number One.  Sidney Poitier was huge at the time this movie came out and a movie where a white woman wants to marry a black man and introduce him to her family was about as courageous a move a film could make.  And I’m sure glad it did come out.  What a great subject and acting to back it up.

School Ties

School Ties

I gotta say I’m not sure what happened to Brendan Fraser after this movie but I feel like he hasn’t had a role that even comes close to that of David Green in School Ties.   It’s a great film centered around a star athlete who is recruited to a mostly (if not all) Christian private school where most students get to the ivy leagues upon graduation.  He must conceal the fact he’s Jewish but once his teammates find out, forget it.

Higher Learning

Higher Learning

John Singleton tackles racism in college in this movie.  And while it’s over the top in terms of the violence, etc etc, not really.  Think about it.  We’ve had a few shootings since this movie and at the time it was made I doubt anyone thought this stuff could happen.  It’s intense to say the least.

  • woody

    This Is England by Shane Meadows is a brilliant film about racism, that should be on this list

  • Nattyb

    Will have to check that out.

  • don’t forget “in the heat of the night” that movie has the best slap scene ever in it.

  • Madison

    To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the all time greats, thanks to Peck. Atticus Finch is one of the best movie characters, EVER.

  • Dave

    I was going to say the same thing as Madison.

    To Kill a Mockingbird is such an epic film. Peck kills it in the big courtroom scene.

  • Korinthian

    Too bad you’re rarely in the mood to watch a film about racism. A watched “The boy in the striped pajamas” a while back, and though it was good, it’s a movie I never want to see again.

  • J5

    No joke. That movie was really good, but the ending was pretty depressing… The whole time I was sitting there thinking “No this isnt gonna happen, is it?”

  • Matt

    You completely forgot White Chicks.

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  • monkeyman4816

    “Still happens in the south”? Bull-SHIT! Grisham said he made it all up. I DARE you to find a single documented rape of a little black girl by whites… I’m waiting…

  • Korinthian

    @Monkey: I was going to find you such a case, but the porn overwhelmed me.

    @Matt: You win.

  • Ellie

    How ’bout The World, the Flesh and the Devil?
    It shows that even though everyone on Earth is gone there’s still some racism amongst the three people alive.

  • MacGyver1138

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book and a great movie. Peck at his best there.

    I’ll agree with the others about this kind of movie not being something you watch all the time. One of my favorite movies is American History X, and I’ve probably only seen it 3 or 4 times. The same can be said for movies accurately portraying the Holocaust or other genocides (Schindler’s List is the first that comes to mind.)

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  • Sweet Christ

    District 9 anyone?

  • Matthew

    The daughter isn’t murdered in A Time to Kill. I remember that from watching it about ten years and didn’t even like it very much at the time.

  • Jeff

    @monkeyman4816 – Your wait is over.

    I assume 15 is young enough?


  • mc

    Norton’s character name is Derek in American History X

  • Sparks

    What about gran turino?

  • chelsea

    i LOVE a time to kill… it makes me bawl like a baby every time and keifer sutherland is awesome in it. glad you included it.

    i will say that higher learning is a horrible movie…. horrible… 2 words: tyra banks.

  • Alex

    District 9 deserves a mention here.

  • Bill

    I really enjoyed The Defiant Ones with Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis. Two chain gang escapees, one white, one black in the deep South. Had a great ending.

  • I have to agree with In the Heat of the Night.

    Not sure if School Ties fits in this category as it is more religious intolerance than racism but I could be wrong

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  • Brian

    Ghosts of Mississippi also deserves a mention here as well

  • Nuttyb

    Have you ever actually been to “the South” or are you simply the geographical and I dependently but indirectly presume, ideological equivalent of a racist? Since this is the internet, I’ll assume you have mounds of evidence supporting your position.

  • Crash was great.

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  • LShea

    “Sadly, this kind of racism still takes place in some parts of the South.”

    As a Southerner and an AA, I gotta say that people need to get off of the “the South is racist” thing, because it’s not like our area has a monopoly on it. Now, if I was to focus on the words “this kind of” then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, except I don’t recall any true stories of this nature happening in recent times.

  • Cornelius

    What about Blazing Saddles?

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  • djrs

    lets not forget an early russel crowe in romper stomper!!! a classic yet often forgotten movie

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  • chrism

    How about Gran Torino? This movie definitely had a strong racism focus and is an excellent movie.

  • Anna

    :O You forgot all about the green mile!!!!
    Powerful film about blatent racism!
    Should be on the list
    All others good though

  • Totally agree with you guys.

  • Sam

    “when a movie has scenes that are tough to watch, you know it’s good.”

    That’s not true at all. Usually when a movie makes me flinch, it is because of flashing lights, or buzzing, or techno-babble, or characters who are supposed to be trained weapons experts using real weapon to spar, or pointing guns at their friends when they don’t intend to shoot them. Really, kids, guns are dangerous.

  • Rusty

    I know that it was mentioned ealier but the south is not living in pre 1965. I have lived in small town Alabama all my life. I went to college in a small town in Alabama. These types of things don’t happen anymore. Now Mississippi Burning on the other hand I think is pretty close to accurate, or as close as Hollywood gets.

  • David

    “this type of thing still happens in the south” or some such nonsense in the Time to Kill section. Can you back this up? I moved here to the deep south almost 40 years ago. Not once have I known of this type thing happening and I worked for one of the largest newspapers in the Southeastern US. Racism is alive and well but obviously in the biased minds of people like you who do such disservice to peoples and places you obviously know nothing about.

  • Dusty

    you forgot Blazing Saddles.

  • Woody

    Taxi Driver and Straw Dogs… Travis Bickle is a blatant racist and the English guys seem to have animosity against Hoffman’s character in Straw Dogs (I forget the name… David??) because he’s American. I guess they don’t centre around racism directly, but without the racism, there’d be no plot.

  • Ahmed

    This is England is such a stupid movie, but I liked it thought, Totally about racism , very true. however , I believe American history x is the greatest ever..

  • Maya

    I dont get it !! why all the movies about racism have to be about jewish or black….there are many people from different races are opressed by another ..Armenians were killed and opressed by the Turks , Arabs by the Jews ,The Truks by the Germans , the kurds by the Arabs and many others…I think Crash was the most deep and mature movie was ever made about racism .It’s not just an emotional blackmailing shalow story. It’s not about a certain race , it’s about human anger .

  • rory

    You forgot Roswell, Catch a Fire, Lifeboat, Confederate States of America,Birth of A Nation, and Color of the Cross to name a few.

  • Kyle

    You apparently have horrible taste and are less than knowledgeable about film than most idiots. A Time to Kill, Crash and Higher Learning all SUCK.

    I live in Texas and we have more blacks and mexicans here than anywhere up north or the great U.K. which has less than one percent. We’re more tolerant than you’d expect but hey, ignorance comes in all forms.

    Taxi Driver, Straw Dogs, Night of the Living Dead, Dead Presidents(black Vietnam vets having even more trouble getting jobs than whites), In the Heat of the Night, Copland, Trading Places, Harold & Kumar, and so many other films are actually honest and difference making.

    Ya see, drivel like Crash is just a Hollywood cliche’ and aside from some great acting blew. Higher Learning was more racist against whites than blacks… I guess you’ve never gone to college. Cause I don’t remember there being a huge KKK gang on any campus. Hilarious… but that movie was dumb fun, I won’t lie. Jesus, you even said a Time to Kill. Wow. I’m more thunderstruck by your bad taste in film than your misinformed views on racism which is saying a lot. So job well done for giving me a laugh. Higher fucking Learning? Really? Douche.

  • Jolyma

    Jeeeeeeez Kyle, how old are you? Are you bitter?

  • Borat

    I agree with Kyle most of these movies don’t deserve to bet there!!

  • Joe Petrie

    Movies like these are what breed hate. They keep racism alive.