SLAM Discussion Guide
SLAM portrays the experience of a young African American man caught in the Washington, DC, correctional system. Set in a real prison, using real convicts as supporting cast, SLAM explores the institutional, cultural and internalized aspects of racism in a current urban African American community. SLAM also explores the use of poetry as a way towards liberation through consciousness and community building.
Things to Think About
Think about the way the prisoners are treated, and the way they treat each other. Why do you think this is? (Keep in mind that most of the actors in the prison are actual inmates).
Also think about the power that words and poetry have.
- What are some examples of institutional racism in this movie? What are some examples of cultural racism in this movie? What are some examples of internalized racism in this move? How do these examples impact Ray, Lauren, and the communities that they live in?
- In the Civil Rights Movement, white people and African Americans often worked together on systemic issues such as segregation and voting rights. In the Black Power Movement, however, African Americans often asked for a separate space, so that they could work on issues that dealt with internalized racism and rebuilding their communities. How do you feel about this need for people of color to have a separate space to work on internalized issues? How can white people support people of color in their community building? Do white people need to get together and talk about their own issues around racism?
- What implications does this movie have for white anti-racists? Where are the places in this film in which white people who want to make change have the most power to do so? What things could your congregation do to support Ray, Lauren and their community? How would you go about doing this?
- What power did poetry have in the movie, and how did it help Ray through the experience he lived through? How has art helped you survive through difficult times? Can you relate Ray's use of poetry to other situations you've been involved in or know about?