Brave New Films’ documentary “Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem” explores the use of misdemeanor “crimes” in criminalizing Black Americans.
13 million people a year – most of them poor and people of color – are abused by this system, which grew out of efforts to uphold white supremacy after the Civil War. Many instances of police violence that prompted last year’s racial justice protests started with alleged misdemeanor infractions like passing counterfeit bills, selling loose cigarettes or having a broken tail light.
The virtual briefing, which comes weeks before the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death and with increasing evidence that decriminalizing low-level offenses improves public safety, will feature remarks by former Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and leading racial justice experts from Harvard (Khalil Gibran Muhammad), civil society (Color of Change’s Rashad Robinson, MoveOn’s Rahna Epting) and grassroots activism and the arts (documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald and poet and formerly incarcerated activist Faylita Hicks). Color of Change, MoveOn and Indivisible are cosponsors.
The short documentary, Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem, by the nonprofit film studio Brave New Films, examines America’s history of using the misdemeanor system to harass and control Black people. Based on Alexandra Natapoff’s Punishment Without Crime, and using first-person accounts of those charged under the Black Codes of the Reconstruction Era, paralleled with the outrageous stories of people trapped in the system today, the film brings to light the greed and racial inequality that have powered an unjust misdemeanor system for more than 150 years.
Racially Charged has been endorsed by ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, the NFL Players Association and high-profile district attorneys across the country who are using their powers to stop the injustices of the misdemeanor system. Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali narrates the film. Event participants Faylita Hicks and Khalil Gibran Muhammad are featured in the film, which is directed by Robert Greenwald.
WHAT: Film premiere and panel discussion of Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem
- Rep. Karen Bass, Congresswoman for the 37th Congressional District of California; Former Congressional Black Caucus Chair
- Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School; Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies; Former director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
- Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change
- Rahna Epting, Executive Director of MoveOn
- Faylita Hicks, Author of Hoodwitch; Poet in Residence for Civil Rights Corps; Formerly incarcerated activist featured in 45 Days in a Texas Jail and Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem
- Robert Greenwald, President of Brave New Films and director of Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor System
WHEN: Tuesday May 4, 2021 at 12pm ET
RSVP: Register here to join via Zoom
For more information, please contact [email protected]