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New Documentary Examines The Death Of Michael Brown And Race In America

“What Killed Michael Brown?” explores race relations, particularly around the deaths of young black men such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.


Shelby Steele, a conservative author and Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, wrote and narrated a new documentary, “What Killed Michael Brown?”, exploring race and violence in America.

Directed by Eli Steele and set to premiere on streaming platforms on October 16, “What Killed Michael Brown?” is meant to examine race relations in the United States and the reactions to the deaths of young black men such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“America’s original sin is not slavery. It is simply the use of race, as a means to power,” the trailer states. “Was it really racism that killed Michael Brown?”

At a press conference Thursday, Steele explained his decision to investigate the 2014 shooting of Brown in Ferguson and how it had implications on the way Americans view race and violence.
“What interested us in making this film was the interest of most Americans in the shooting of one young man. Media from around the globe swarmed into this little suburb of St. Louis Ferguson, Missouri and it became this huge cataclysmic cultural event,” Steele said, explaining that the same attention is not drawn to regular gun violence against blacks.
“Two years later in the Southside of Chicago, in one year 762 young black kids were shot and killed 3000 were wounded,” he added.
The film, according to Steele, showcases the different arguments and philosophies of the movements and reactions seen in Ferguson, as well as more recent outcries in Minneapolis, and why they gained traction with the media and the American public.
“Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown, now George Floyd, and three others all seem to trigger the same sort of reflexive pattern in American life and particularly the way they’re covered in the media,” Steele explained. “There’s this rush, this almost desperate frenzy, to see, to be an event as an example of black victimization.”
Steele believes it is the culture of black victimization and the rise of “white guilt” that plays a role in the increasing amount of attention and outrage at these events.
“One of the things we hope comes out of this film is that you, the viewer, sees that over and over we’ll go down that road. ‘We’ll make race count here. We’ll make it right. We’ll use race to do the good thing to uplift people.’ That’s the worst thing you can ever hear. Then you know corruption will follow,” Steele explained.

While Steele claims that growing up as a black man during segregation and the civil rights movement showed him the importance of the black advocacy craved by many of the people in Ferguson and other cities, he claims that many black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson “exploit these situations” for political gain.

In the film, Steele said he avoided political and partisan and instead chose to dig into the “fictions” of race that contributed to these shootings and events.
“Our main goal in this film is to simply reveal these kinds of [race] fictions. We’re not partisan. We don’t get into politics. It’s cultural. We get into the cultures where the real contest is and that’s where we try to start,” Steele said.

According to Steele education and broken homes are areas that black people are ignoring in exchange for targeting racism.

“We use racism and white racism as an avoid, as an escape from the real work,” Steele said

“One thing that burns me up with black relatives is that they believe in whites being the agent of black fate. They believe more in whites than they do in blacks. They believe we’re weak. They believe we’re inferior and that we’re not gonna do anything,” Steele added. “That’s what black people, very often, too, believe. That’s what that has to be changed.”

Moving forward, Steele said he believes that black people need to embrace the freedom that they have as Americans to embrace that change.

“Freedom is a frightening thing. And when the responsibility for your life is put back into your own hands, that makes us all nervous. But let’s face that. Let’s deal with that,” he said.

In June, Steele told The Federalist that today’s racial tensions are caused by the explosion of a racial change during the civil rights movement and the development of “redemptive liberalism.”

“The left has discovered that there’s enormous power in claiming to be redemptive, claiming and putting yourself on the side of the good. And so the left always is a constant scream of political correctness and do-gooders in one kind or another and claiming the mantle of power in order to say ‘We will redeem America. We will be the ones who make America achieve its dreams of equity for all,’” Steele said.