Rage Against the Machine have released a short documentary about race entitled Killing in Thy Name, which breaks down what film labels as “the fiction known as whiteness.”
In collaboration with international artists collective The Ummah Chroma (which means Community of Colour) the doc depicts a teacher in an open field with a small group of children, communicating a truncated history of oppression in the United States. Using a chalkboard and his words, the teacher goes through centuries of slavery and manifest destiny, along with how those ideals contributed to the creation of our country.
“Where do you think white people come from?” the teacher asks. After the kids responded with various European and North American answers, the teacher says, “Actually, there were no ‘white’ people who came from any of those places. When they came from England what do you think they called themselves? The English or British. When they came from France what did they call themselves? French. When they came from Russia what were they? Russians.”
He continues, “They didn’t call themselves ‘white,’ so at what point did these people, who had never ever really thought of themselves as one big happy family — in fact, they’d been killing each other for years — when did they decide that they were ‘white?’
“The following is a document of true events,” an intro to the short film reads. “Our aim is for this piece to be a fire escape from the fiction known as whiteness and a spring for discovery. Remember, the children are always watching.” The cover art for Killing in Thy Name depicts a famous photo of a man standing beside the skulls of roughly 1.5 million buffalos, which were slaughtered in part to starve Native Americans in the late 1800s.
Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” is used throughout the documentary, which is capped off by quotes from the band. “Writing songs that have something to say about what’s going on socially and politically isn’t a choice for us. It’s an obligation. I want to use music as a weapon and start spraying fools,” says bassist Tim Commerford.
Guitarist Tom Morello adds, “My mom [Mary Morello] is a white woman with a radical voice. For three decades she was a progressive teacher in a conservative high school inspiring students to challenge the system — in her actions and words she has always taught that racism must never be ignored and must always be confronted.”
“The music wouldn’t exist without the politics,” drummer Brad Wilk describes. “When we’re playing a show, if something clicks for any one kid in the audience — starting that change, that process of thinking for themselves — that’s the most potent time Rage Against the Machine can have as a band.”
Watch the full documentary below and click here to find out more about The Ummah Chroma.
Rage Against the Machine x The Ummah Chroma – Killing In Thy Name