This chronicle of rampant racism in the US begins with a provocative question from filmmaker Roger Ross Williams: “Please tell me, what is wrong with Black people?” If you want to change anything about the current situation, you need to know where the racist ideas came from, believes historian Ibram X. Kendi. This film is based on Kendi’s eponymous book, and the author is one of the narrators. We also hear from other experts on the issue, ranging from professors to activists. All the speakers are members of the Black community and, with the exception of Kendi himself, all of them are women.
Williams (director of Oscar-nominated Life, Animated and the first African American filmmaker to win an Oscar, for Music by Prudence) illustrates the story with a dynamic and varied array of visual material, such as the stylized scenes in which three prominent Black women from the past—a poet, an author, and a journalist—are brought back to life. This brings a picture of persecution and white power ever more sharply into focus. This chronicle begins with the invention of the Black race, and ends with the myths that have survived to this day. And there’s just one thing wrong.